The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.
–Tony Blair

Saying “no” is difficult for many of us, but this simple word must be incorporated into our vocabulary. We need to understand why it’s difficult for us, and the ramifications for our reluctance. 

We all want to succeed, our pace never slows down, we know we can juggle and accomplish amazing things, and because of this, we’re sometimes guilty of over committing.

That’s when we need to remember that saying NO is an option (and an art!).

Things to think about:

  • If we say “yes”, what tasks will be negatively impacted?
  • Are we compromising our ability to deliver quality work?
  • How many additional hours are we willing to add to our schedule?
  • Does the task clearly support our goals and priorities?

We also have the option to counter-offer: I’d love to support that initiative; I may need help assessing what could be reassigned elsewhere or postponed.

Other tips:

  • Have a plan in place to handle distractions and interruptions
  • Know how to prioritize, be willing to re-prioritize, and commit to your decisions
  • Set boundaries based on your priorities and say no to those outside your boundaries
  • Be open and flexible, but realistic
  • Practice the ways in which you can respond

Be true to yourself and your priorities, and don’t compromise quality. Remember that over-using a strength (our desire to achieve), could result in a weakness. (And it’s likely to create self-imposed stress!).


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