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23 Feb

Fifty nuances of no

Datum: 2022-02-23 15:04

Say­ing no to a col­league who asks for our help can be very dif­fi­cult for many of us. It is easy to judge your­self and think that we are being self­ish and unhelp­ful when we choose to pri­or­i­tize what we are cur­rent­ly doing before help­ing who­ev­er is stuck and might need our help to con­tin­ue working.

Shouldn’t we always sup­port our col­leagues? After all, we are work­ing towards the same goals, aren’t we? Yes, but we also have tasks to com­plete which are equal­ly impor­tant to the busi­ness and its progress.

So some­times we sim­ply need to say no. Or do we?

A more pleas­ant ver­sion of no
Well, for­tu­nate­ly there are nuances of no which can come in handy when we want to turn some­one down grace­ful­ly and with­out hurt­ing either our­selves or the per­son ask­ing for assistance.

Do this
As you are busy work­ing on some­thing which is both urgent and impor­tant, a col­league asks you for help. If you feel that you would rather tell them no but also feel reluc­tant to do so, try say­ing one of these nuances of no instead:

  • Sure, but could we do it at 2pm instead, when I have fin­ished what I am in the mid­dle of?”

  • Absolute­ly — e‑mail me about the prob­lem, and I will get on it as soon as I pos­si­bly can lat­er today.”

  • Yes, you can have it by Wednes­day next week.”

  • Sure, I can show you how to do it, and if you write a check­list or cheat-sheet as we go along, you will be able to solve it by your­self next time it happens.”

  • Yes I can, but I can do it this way instead:” (and then present the method or way that would suit you bet­ter, for instance doing it in a way which would enable you to reuse some­thing you already have or have done).

or, take a deep breath and say, even though you do not feel entire­ly com­fort­able doing so,

  • I am sor­ry but no, I do not have time to help you right now.”

Watch what hap­pens. Did your response result in a ter­ri­ble reac­tion or were they fine with your answer? If you actu­al­ly did say no as the last option above sug­gest­ed, did the col­league find anoth­er way or per­son to help them solve the prob­lem instead?

You, and only you, can set your own priorities
If you from time to time use one of these nuances of no it will be eas­i­er to stay on track with your own set of pri­or­i­ties both in the short- and long-run. You do not have to suf­fer the con­se­quences of oth­er people’s inabil­i­ty to remain struc­tured, and will reach your goals faster since it is eas­i­er for you to get the tasks which help you attain them done. Per­haps this will even prove to be an oppor­tu­ni­ty for your col­league to learn that it is OK to say no some­times, which might even be the best thing for them right now.

What is your way of solv­ing this dilemma?
How do you say no to oth­ers with a clear con­science? I have described a hand­ful of nuances, and I am sure that there are numer­ous oth­er ways to say no in, per­haps even as many as fifty. Tell me!