Saying ‘no’ at the workplace

The workplace is one at which we get to meet people of different hues, sometimes literally. When diverse workplaces are what may be termed, to use an old phrase, “the order of the day”, putting up with people from different backgrounds, cultures and tastes is fun. It exposes you to diverse elements, but also brings with it a difficulty –that of handling them when the going gets tough. Much of the problem we face at the workplace can be crystallized in one situation –that of saying ‘no’.

Make it pleasant

It is not always easy to do this, but when you have to say ‘no’ to a colleague, especially a senior one; think of ways by which to ‘sugarcoat’ it. You know for sure that this is a word you have to use; because you are certain that the alternative to saying ‘no’ can be costly. But at the same time, you have a difficulty in saying it without offending the person. So, what you can do is to put it mildly, and subtly. Just show your disinterest to your colleague’s proposal. That should send a strong signal that you are not likely to take her call.

Try offering alternatives

If this does not work and the colleague is either insensitive to your gestures or are still convinced about what she is talking, you could try offering her alternatives to her suggestions. This is another powerful way of saying ‘no’, because the fact that you are offering alternatives means that you are looking for something more or other than what the colleague has to offer.

If nothing else works…

And yes, finally, if your colleague is naïve that she will not look into either of these, there is no alternative to saying a firm and clear ‘no’. After all, you gave enough indications and options. It is not your fault if she did not take the clue!


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