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Take control when you can't say no


Sometimes it's hard to say no. An urgent request comes your way and it has to get done. Right now. Yesterday if possible. If you could say no and turn down the request, you'd have more time for the things that count. But the situation demands action and you can't refuse. You're not too happy about it. In that case, say yes. But take control of the situation rather than letting it take control of you. Provide suggestions or alternatives to the person making the request. "I can't do that task today, but how about next week," or "I can help you by finding out who really should be doing this."Or you can agree to the request this time, but ask how the two of you might plan better to avoid a rush the next time. Another strategy is to tell them yes, but remind them they owe you one. For example, they might cover you for a shift next time you need time off. You can't always say no, but you can you can take control by setting the timetable on your own terms. For instance say, "OK, I think I can squeeze that in. I expect I'll be able to get it to you by four o'clock today." Set the schedule rather than letting someone set it for you. Finally, consider putting a tough condition on your agreement. "If it would only take an hour, I'd be able to help, but I can't give you more than that." When in doubt, it's easier to say no now, then change your mind to a yes later, rather than the other way around. After all, your time is worth it.

Mark Ellwood is a productivity consultant dedicated to improving people and processes through consulting, training and facilitation. Reach him at mark@GetMoreDone.com or www.getmoredone.com.

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