Steps to Success: The Upside of Saying “No”
Roxanne Flores, a native of Brooklyn, NY, is Vice President, Human Resources & Chief Diversity Officer at Meredith Corporation, a role she assumed in April 2018 when the company acquired TIME, Inc. Roxanne oversees all aspects of the company's human resources worldwide, including talent development, employee engagement, labor relations and compensation and benefits.
We've done a lot of great things together over the last eight weeks, Chica. Time flies when you're having fun and you're on the path to career success!
If you've been on this road with me all this time, you've been very busy with planning and putting those plans into action. So, this week I'd like to explore ways in which you can avoid getting bogged down. We've all heard it said that if you want something done, you need to give it to a busy person. Well, there is a downside to being identified as that busy person — particularly when it all starts to become too much.
A lot of people — especially women — say yes to the point that they become emotionally and mentally drained because they commit to too much. Does that resonate with you? How many times have you heard yourself saying yes to the wrong things and wishing you could muster the power to take it back? There are a number of reasons why you might feel compelled to say yes all the time: maybe you fear being viewed as not a team player, missing that promotion you've been eyeing or, worse, losing your job. Let's put that fear in its place and move on.
It may seem ironic but saying “no” at the right times and in a respectful manner is vital to how you are viewed at work and in your career. There are times when it is important to say no. For instance, if you are carrying too much weight and taking something else on will jeopardize an important deadline or sacrifice the quality of a deliverable. Similarly, when you get a request that will prevent you from accomplishing a key career goal or your core responsibilities. And most importantly, if the request rings the bell of your moral compass, no is the right answer.
I know, you're thinking: ¡Sí, seguro! That sounds easy, but how do I put it in practice? How do I say no? The truth is, if you have your finger on the pulse of your department and/or workplace you can see the need (and ask!) coming a mile away and you can be prepared. But even if that's not the case, prepare an answer for this possibility. Saying something like: “While I would normally jump at this opportunity, I'm carrying a pretty heavy load at the moment and wouldn't be able to give this the needed attention” could work. If a hard no is not an option, negotiate. Say something like: “I can't take on the whole project but would be happy to move XYZ part of it along.” Or maybe even: “If you need me take this on, can we negotiate an extension on that other project deadline on my plate? I'm afraid I won't be able to do both things at the same time.”
By the way, I'm not suggesting that you just start throwing no around on a daily basis. I'm suggesting that you be more mindful about taking on every additional request. Ask yourself:
- Why are YOU being asked?
- Do you possess knowledge or a particular skill set that makes you ideal for this project or task?
- Is this an important project?
- Will working on this give you experience and/or exposure to leaders that you otherwise wouldn't have?
- If the answer is yes, evaluate what's on your plate.
- Are some deadlines flexible?
- Can priorities be shuffled?
Ultimately, I'd like you to remember that a well-placed No can be a good thing at work and, by the way my dear Chica, also in life.
Until next week!
I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a tweet on Twitter @FloresRoxie