You’re back from the holidays, refreshed and ready to tackle your biggest projects. But it has been a couple of weeks now and many of you are telling me that you are still getting pulled in other directions.
Yes, we all need to be available to our colleagues, but sometimes our willingness to help others comes at the expense of helping ourselves. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “I need to say no more often” I would be one wealthy individual.
Some people can naturally say no. The rest of us need to have a few other tricks up our sleeve. Read on for some of the best ways to say no without using that oh-so-hard to vocalize word.
1. Know your plan
Plan what you need to accomplish and when you plan to do it. Obviously, you need to leave some time open for the unknown. Once you have a plan, it becomes much clearer for you to evaluate whether you have time to help someone else.
2. Say “Yes” instead of “No”
Consider what you can do to help your colleague. It might be relatively easy for you to do part of what they are requesting.
Example: “If you need help writing a press release, I suggest that you talk to John in Marketing. He has an intern working with him right now and they may even be able to write it for you. I’ll send an email to John for you.”
3. Don’t offer up your prime time
Your involvement may be mitigated if your availability is in ‘off-prime’ hours (i.e., before 8am; after 5pm; during an evening call). Your colleague may be more inclined to keep the conversation ‘tight’.
Example: “I’m pretty booked today, but I could go over it with you at 5:30pm.”
4. Who’s Got the Monkey?
I am a fan of this Harvard Business Review article that advises us to avoid taking on problems as our own. You alone do not need to solve everything.
Example: “Have you tried …” (instead of “Let me try …”)
5. Cite Your Current Workload
Be honest. Let the person know that you would like to help them but you are fully booked until [insert date that works for you].
Example: “I’m pretty busy until the end of January. Can this wait until early February?”
So there you have it. My (up until now) secret tips for getting out of work. Just please don’t get offended if I use these lines on you. Remember – I’m trying to role model productive working.