The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

know how to say no

Having nice manners does not mean you are a pushover. Just the opposite, actually. Mastering business etiquette allows you to have all sorts of ways to say You have got to be kidding! There is no way I’m doing that! without hurting feelings or leaving the impression you are not a team player.

Here’s how to gracefully decline just about anything:

In order to remain in good graces, you must decline with grace. That means your reaction to any request must remain emotionless. No exclamations about the absurdity of what is being requested. Watch your facial expressions. Don’t furrow your brow or frown.

Don’t ramble, instead be direct. Let’s say you have been asked to organize the monthly birthday lunch for the 3rd straight time and you are ready to let someone else take the lead. Simply say, Thank you for asking again, but I’m going to decline. I’m on a deadline. There is no need to talk about why you shouldn’t have to do this every single month and how everyone complains about the same ole cake, anyway. Smile, look the person directly in the eye, give him your answer, and you are done.

Decline quickly. Unless you honestly need to mull it over or check your calendar, decline the request right away. If you are perceived to be unsure or easily swayed, more and more people will ask you to take on whatever they don’t want to do themselves.

Set the stage. If you stay busy at the office and don’t spend a lot of time around the water cooler, people will assume you are too busy to even be asked to coach the company sponsored little league team. This will allow you to seek out the “extra” things that fit your schedule and personality.

Now, get out there and tell somebody no – nicely. 

 

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