HOW TO: SAY ‘NO’ PROFESSIONALLY
After much deliberation, I am happy to present the first in what hopes to be a series of articles fashioned to help the residents of Alexander Brown Hall and its environs thrive even just a little better at life profesionally, socially, mentally and all the works. These articles are designed to help you thrive, but if they fail to, you can always hope for better luck next time.
To kick-off, I’ll be addressing an issue that Brownites already in the professional industry often come across and for Brownites who aren’t there yet, feel free to bookmark this for the future. I have come to realize that people are more comfortable ignoring a situation by leaving it on “read” as opposed to boldly communicating that they cannot, will not or would simply prefer to not do whatever the situation calls. From impossible deadlines and overwhelming workload to unrealistic expectations and ridiculous overtime, I come armed with what you need to master the art of saying “No” in a professional setting.
It is the year 2023, and the country is putting us through the wringer. We are all under significant stress even at rest. So here’s a list of ways to decline more stressors whilst maintaining professionalism. Essentially, you will be saying “no” but with the finnesse and official tone required in an organizational setting. Feel free to choose the most suitable one for your current needs.
“I did not agree to work on this”
It appears we need to define the tasks involved and assign different roles as it seems you are under the impression that completing these tasks is my responsibility, which for clarity’s sake, it is not.
“I cannot work with this deadline alone”
It appears you have misunderstood. I will be the only one working on this project and as such, a deadline of [insert date/time] is realistic for such quality of work. +/- Unless, of course, more hands are to be added to the project. In this case, I would be more than happy to discuss with the new members and get back to you.
“I cannot work with this deadline”
Considering the size of this project and the number of preliminary assignments it will require, it is best if we work with a deadline of [insert preferred date/time]
“I cannot keep editing/improving your work for you”
Although we work together, making edits and such intensive improvements to your work does not fall under my purview and has become quite a strain. Going forward, kindly consult [insert specifics] or our previous works as a guide as I will no longer be available. +/- However, if you are certain you require my input, my hourly rate for offering those services is [insert specifics]. Kindly let me know how many hours of my time you will require.
“I cannot accept the blame for this”
I understand that [insert specifics] was not to your liking. However, because you informed me that I was free to put my creative spin on this, my understanding was that you would be open to [insert specifics]. It was an unfortunate outcome and hopefully, in the future, we can avoid this by clearly defining what your expectations are.
“This meeting is unnecessary”
For the sake of efficiency, going forward, we should hold off on meetings until we have a fuller and more salient agenda to deliberate on. In the interim, an email or a discussion on [insert preferred means] would suffice.
“I already told you this cannot work. Don’t stress me”
I was under the impression that I had properly communicated that this is not a feasible solution. So we do not waste time and resources by revisiting this issue repeatedly, I will take the liberty of summarizing. Despite repeated reviews, it is still not a feasible solution. If this changes at any point, I will be happy to let you know. +/- If you have any specific questions about it, I will be happy to answer them [insert preferred time].
“I have tried enough for you people. I’m not doing again”
Although this is a tasking role, I have expended far more energy/resources than necessary and upon critical inspection, it appears this occurred because you and your team/group have continually failed to deliver or [insert specifics]. While there might be a reason for this, I can no longer make up for these lapses.
From your business life to academic and volunteer organizations, I hope this simplified, beginner’s guide to civilly saying “No” to situations that commonly afflict -or at least are likely to become a common problem once we leave the famed four walls of Alexander Brown Hall- members of the Hall helps you expertly get yourself out of two or more unwanted tight spots. Feel free to let me know in the comment section if there are any major no-needing situations you need help with and what you would like me to take on next.