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Tip 157: Saying No to Nonessential Requests

Leaders often say YES to many requests because it is their default. It is uncomfortable to say no and disappoint a team member or colleague who is making the request. But what happens when you say yes to a request that is not aligned with your top priorities? You probably risk overloading yourself. Let’s consider ways to gently, yet powerfully, say NO.

  1. When someone makes a request, do not respond immediately.

  2. Determine whether the request is one you want to take on.

  3. Before you say no, start by saying thank you.

  4. When you say no, use a neutral but definitive tone of voice.

  5. Explain why you are saying no and give details.

  6. If you’re saying no only because of bad timing, propose an alternative.

You may feel like saying no means you are not being a team player, but in fact it could be the best thing for you and your team.


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