Better to have a reason to say no than an excuse right? So imagine you’re up to your neck in work and someone adds to your load, the right thing to do would be to explain you are sinking under the current tasks, research shows however that we keep accepting more and more, until stress makes us erupt and with both barrels.

If this happens then we didn’t respond sooner to the warning signs, or maybe there weren’t any, the result will almost certainly mean that you are now aware of that stress that has been building and maybe those around you will be aware too, maybe not such a bad thing but ideally noticing when we’re full up id better than having a blow out.

So, here are some examples of ways to say no, without it sounding like a ‘no’.

The problem – Your colleague or boss emails you and asks you to do something else and you are already at bursting point.

The solution – Wait a while, don’t reply immediately, this may suggest that you have everything under control. Reply with a focussed reply explaining that you are struggling with your current tasks, but add that you could probably get around to the new task when you have completed your current priorities, unless whoever asked you to do the task would like you to make the new task your priority.

art-of-saying-noThis will have the effect of them questioning themselves as to whether they really need you to do it, or whether it is indeed a priority.

It may result in them coming back to you again and asking you to do it anyway, but what may happen is that they will recognise you are busy and seek an alternative. It will also encourage them to think next time they ask you to do additional work because you have given a no, which didn’t sound like a no.

If you are regularly given your work and extra work by email you can make the technology work for you. Here’s another example.

The problem – You regularly get inundated with work via email.

The solution – Set your email up with an out of office message which reads something like this “I am currently in the middle of a priority issue” if your request is urgent, then please resend your message marked ‘urgent’ if not and there is someone else who may be able to help you whilst I am busy, please do so. I will of course check my messages marked ‘urgent’ as soon as I am available.

I hope you find these examples of how to say no useful, there are many other useful ways to become more enabled to say what you really want to say.

For more tips on saying no and other ways of being assertive, contact me at the address below.

Paul Parkin – online counsellor and life coach