Does this sound like you?
You struggle to express how you truly feel.
You want to please everyone.
You feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities but still take on more work when asked.
The idea of running away and escaping to a tropical island sounds more and more appealing the longer your to-do list gets.
Why You Should Say "No" More Often
If you keep taking on more work and saying yes when you want to say no, you might become: angry, resentful, and burned out.
Ultimately you won't have the time or energy to do the things you actually want to do.
How To Say No With Respect
How do you avoid sounding rude and disrespectful?
To your boss
State what you're currently working on
Ask what tasks take priority
State the impact of taking on new tasks (you have limited bandwidth and something will have to give. )
eg. "Thank you for thinking of me for this project but if I start working on this right away and complete it by next Monday, that means I won't be able to complete tasks XYZ until the week after."
eg. "I would like to be part of this but unfortunately, I don't have the bandwidth right now. Is there anyone else on the team able to help out?"
To your coworkers
Let them know where you currently stand with your tasks and deadlines
Tell them the impact of helping them (you won't have time to complete your own tasks)
eg. "I'm so sorry Tim. I wish I could help you but I'm juggling a couple of deadlines myself and I'm afraid any time away from this project will affect completion time."
Share any tips or resources that can help them (if applicable and time permits)
eg. "Have you chatted with Karen? She worked with that client last year. Maybe she has some tips she can share?"
Before Saying "No" Consider The Following
Your tone and body language.
Don't be rude, aggressive, or overly dramatic like Michael above. Ensure your arms aren't crossed and you are expressing open body language.
Be firm in your response and articulate it clearly.
Reason for saying no.
Is this something you're interested in? Could you ask for help with other tasks so you can work on this project? Explore all options.
How to say no.
For many, saying no doesn't come naturally. Practice saying no (and the reasons for it) by looking into the mirror or rehearsing with someone else.
Helping in other ways.
If you fear fall out from saying no or simply feel bad, ask if you can be of assistance in some other way. This shows that you care and want to help in a capacity that works for you.
You can also suggest helping after you complete your project if your schedule allows.
Even though you tried to articulate your concerns and struggles, others might not be prepared for it. This is especially true for those who typically always say yes!
Remember you're entitled to your feelings and opinions and you can't control how others feel!
You're struggling to meet a deadline and your boss asks you to help out on yet another project. What is the best way to tell them "No"?