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How to Say “No” with Professionalism and Grace

Being an agreeable person can be extremely beneficial in the workplace; everyone wants a colleague or coworker who is willing to go the extra mile and is open to ideas and experiences. However, agreeing to everything and anything can be detrimental to your career and your own personal well-being. Many professionals are afraid that saying “no” to a colleague or client will make them seem unpleasant or difficult, and find themselves roped into uncomfortable situations: making promises they can’t keep, being overextended to the point that their work suffers, or taking part in ideas that they don’t truly believe in. But saying “no” doesn’t have to put a strain on your professional relationships. Take a look at our three tips:

Postpone: Sometimes it’s not saying “no” that is uncomfortable: it’s the time and place. One prime example is if you are in a group situation and the person making the request or suggestion stands to lose face or be embarrassed if rejected. In this situation, buy some time, and tell your conversation partner you need to think about it a little bit and that you’d love to meet up later to discuss the situation. Once you are in private, you can express your opinion without an audience.

Send an E-mail: In some situations, it may be preferable to say “no” when you’re not face-to-face with someone. In these situations, e-mail is an excellent alternative. This is especially useful in situations which may become emotional or stressful. By using e-mail, you can state your case in full so that the other person fully understands your reasons for saying “no”; it also gives the other person time to consider your answer and respond without the pressure of a face-to-face encounter.

Help Them See Things Your Way: Instead of rejecting an idea outright, think about why you are saying no. Then, ask questions that will lead the other person to see your point of view. By asking a few pointed questions, you can discreetly lead someone to see things from your perspective, and avoid having to say “no” directly.

Want to learn more? Give me a call at 212-308-7725 or send me an e-mail at info@corporatespeechsolutions.com. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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