Four Ways to Say 'No' at Work

ways to say no Let's face it, when presented with a new project at work or opportunity to fill in for someone, we're motivated to say, "Yes!" Perhaps it's out of fear, perhaps it's for job security, but whatever the reason, saying yes actually prevents us from focusing on what we really need to accomplish. When we say yes to others, we're ultimately saying no to ourselves. Here are four tactful and assertive ways to flip it upside down and push back without telling them quite bluntly to talk to the hand.

1. Use the sandwich technique.

According to Mel Robbins, Borders Radio host and author of "Stop Saying You're Fine," this method involves starting by saying something nice. "Thank you for thinking of me," she recommends. "Then layer it with meat. 'But, I'm too busy' or 'but, until I get a full-time assistant, I can't take on anything else.'" And at the end, layer it with another thank you.

2. Repeat yourself.

Want to get consistent results so that you don't get dumped on time and time again with too much work, and so little time? "Give the same exact message," notes Robbins. If you don't and you're burned out, there's no one to blame but yourself. "Continue to have the conversation," she says. "Be proactive about setting expectations. For instance, you can say, 'Yes, but I won't be able to get it done until three weeks from now.' "

3. Say it without apologies or guilt.

Daylle Deanna Schwartz, author of "Nice Girls Can Finish First," says to be strong with your voice. If you're not, "People will use that to get you to change your mind or make it up to them at another time.... It's important to get people used to you not always being available for their needs, so you have more time for your own."

4. Say no without using the N word.

"You don't have to say, 'no' if it's uncomfortable, or defend your decision," notes Schwartz. "In a friendly but firm voice just say, 'I can't do it.' " Another way to push back is to check your workload and "then email that you can't do it."

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