How to Say “NO”… Professionally

Published on: Author: Anne Langton

Working out of a home office and being a “solopreneur” has its challenges for sure but the one that consistently surfaces is the sentiment, “I don’t have enough TIME”.  As an organizer and designer, I see this play out in very physical ways when it comes to office space.  It can be revealed by piles of clutter or an office layout that is totally unsuitable for productivity.  But today’s blog is not about time management.  It is more about PRIORITY MANAGEMENT and learning to say “NO” so that you can support your PRIORITIES.  So first…

  • ESTABLISH PRIORITIES. These tasks should promote YOUR goals
  • RECOGNIZE THAT OBLIGATIONS REQUIRE TIME.  Choose obligations that your schedule can accommodate.
  • UNDERSTAND THAT “TIME” IS LIMITED…it is not “stretchable” nor does it go on forever.  It has boundaries.  If you think otherwise, somehow you eventually pay a price.

Now before we continue, I have a confession to make…I am lousy at the “NO” response (although my children would surely disagree)  In fact I am currently living with a back log of regrets as a result of not being able to say the n-word.  I am the first one to admit I am over committed but I am trying to change my ways and in doing so, I needed to come up with ways to DECLINE in a way that DOES NOT JEOPARDIZE RELATIONSHIPS OR REPUTATIONS.  After All I really WANT to help but I am finally realizing that I can’t help everyone so I must be selective.  So here are my 4 favorite ways to say “NO” if you must to maintain your sanity…

1  “NO…I cannot devote the time right now that is required to do the job well.  It would not be fair to you or the group.”

2   “NO…I cannot commit the time now, BUT check back with me in the future”

3   “NO…I am not the best person for this right now but have you tried________?”

4   “Let me think about that and get back to you”.  (Sometimes you can counter offer with a time or task limitation that is a win/win for both parties. Quite often “yes’ is said in the moment.  Allow yourself time to think things through and reply honestly)

And remember, THEY probably did not like “ASKING” as much as you did not like “REPLYING” so smile and start off with “Thanks for thinking of me but…”

Langton Designs creates offices that work well and feel right