Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Don’t Say No

My boss wants me to stay up late and complete this activity. But I have planned an evening out with my family. What do I do? How do I manage this in the most appropriate way?

A Colleague wants me to help out on some agenda. I am already busy with my work, and I don’t want to appear like I am evading the task. How do I manage this?

Someone asks me to work on a project, and I feel I am not skilled or competent to do the work. How do I handle the situation?

All of us often face such scenarios where we are conflicted between saying, “No, I can’t,” and saying, “Yes, I’ll help you.”

No one likes to hear the phrase “I can’t” because we somehow the meaning of “I can’t” gets twisted to imply, “I won’t.” For some reason, in the rule book of engagement, saying “No, I can’t” suggests that one is not willing to do what it takes to complete any task or activity.

There is a simple way to deal with such requests. To start with, keep to a position of honesty in responding to all such requests.

  • If you can make the time or can take the effort to help out or commit to the discretionary work, go ahead. When you give and contribute, it establishes your credibility and enhances your value within the system.
  • If you really can’t do something because you truly lack the necessary skills, instead of saying No or I can’t tell the other person what you can do.

Instead of saying, “No, I can’t stay late tonight,” provide an alternative option, “I can come in early tomorrow morning. Will that work?”

Instead of saying “I can’t run those numbers as I don’t know how to do it,” you can say “I don’t yet know how to run this type of analysis and report, is there someone who can guide me so that I can do it on my own ?”

When someone asks you to do something, saying “No” or “I can’t” because you are not comfortable or because you feel it is not adding any value, represents a poor attitude. I encourage everyone to always approach every situation with an open mind, with curiosity and a willing attitude to take on new activities, even if you feel it is not adding any value.

I love this quote by Richard Branson “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later,” 

This quote encapsulates the spirit with which all of us should approach any request or opportunity. Saying “Yes, I can” is always a more valuable choice than saying, “No, I can’t.”

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