Although many of us were raised to be “people pleasers” who cheered up unhappy relatives and lightened the atmosphere at home, there are numerous times as adults when we can function most effectively if we’ll just say “No” to requests made by others. While this may at first seem counterintuitive to getting ahead in the world, it will quickly make sense when you reflect on the value of your limited work time.
For example, when you maintain an “open door” policy at work, you will quickly lose most of your privacy and your time. This is why so many top corporate executives always have strong administrative assistants they’ve trained to turn away most individuals who want to see them. Instead, their assistants will often reroute visitors to a lower-level employee who may actually be better suited to handling the specific task at hand.
While it’s important for top executives or leaders to remain somewhat approachable, this can often be achieved during monthly company meetings with lower-level employees, especially when question-and-answer periods are included.
The following information further explains why “just saying ‘No,” on the job can help you demonstrate better work boundaries. (Entrepreneur’s October 2014 magazine explores this basic theme in greater detail in its article entitled, “You Can’t Please Everyone.”)
Additional Circumstances that Often Require Effective Leaders to Say “No”
- In order to delegate appropriately, you must be able to readily say “no” sometimes. If top company leaders accepted every invitation to address various gatherings, they could never get their work done. Instead, they learn to judiciously accept a small number of invitations each year – while saying ‘no’ and suggesting others who might do just as good a job as they might have done;
- It’s critical to pull away from clients who use up too much of your time and constantly complain. You will save yourself a lot of headaches and open up more valuable work time if you will just say “no” when a former troublesome client tries to hire you again. If you really want to give someone a second chance, you might require them to only check in with one of your subordinates in the future, thereby conserving your time for more important activities;
- While you should do what you can to be supportive of your family, you must still say “no” to some requests. Whether you’re a working mom or dad, there really are times when you cannot help out in every way that might benefit your children. If you’re a single parent, it’s even more important for you to let your child’s school (or other groups) know that you’ll help at times – but you must limit how often you take part due to the demands of your full-time job;
- Feel free to say ‘no’ when asked to handle too many new tasks outside of your direct expertise. Even though you may be willing to help out accounting or another department when they need help, it’s critical to stick with the projects and work you handle best.
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