The Art of Saying No

November 18, 2019

This week our design extraordinaire, Molly, talks about why it’s sometimes OK to say no!

The word ‘no’ is negative. It’s a small word which causes large waves and stops you in your tracks, so you’d be a fool to ever use it, right? You should surely accept every challenge and push yourself to climb every mountain! Yes, all the way! Build yourself, accept everything that comes your way, push yourself to be the greatest version of ‘you’…

So, you have arrived – you’ve followed your instincts and are on the way to becoming the best possible you, great! Not so great, however, during that important conference meeting when you’re falling asleep due to late night networking and rushing around to finish a brief that your manager promised would be amazing for your personal development.

I’m sure this picture is all too familiar with most of you – we have all taken on too much every now and again. This is mainly because we are all just too scared of using that teeny tiny word… no. Sometimes, you have to put yourself first and know, as much as you would love to push yourself and do everything, that it is not always possible. Attempting to do everything is almost always at the detriment of everything else you are juggling and the people around you. You might start yelling at your co-workers because you’ve only had a few hours’ sleep, or you might be a week late to the deadline you promised. It’s much better to concentrate and do the things you are doing to the very best standard, than to try and do lots of things to half-heartedly!

So, how can we take a step back and decide whether we can realistically complete what we’re being asked?

Be organised and realistic

It comes down to being organised. Taking a step back and having some time to get your ducks in a row really can go a long way, though you need to be realistic when doing this. To over promise on a task and end up letting someone down will only hurt you and damage your reputation in the long run! Telling the client, your boss (or anyone) that the project will take as long as it takes can sometimes be hard, as you’ll want to promise them the world.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

If you’re already feeling tense about your workload – it won’t help at all to take on more. Your boss will not appreciate a half-completed piece of work so being honest is always the best policy. It doesn’t help anyone to over promise and not deliver! As long as you’re working to the best standard, in the quickest, most efficient way, then you’re doing your best and that’s all you can do.


There are lots of programs you can use to do this, and it can really help if the whole company uses it. This way everyone can collectively keep on top of deadlines and know each other’s workloads. You can also have your own to-do list, and there’s many options available depending on how you work best – some people love the visual features of an app, whereas others may prefer to stick to a good, old-fashioned calendar. Apps can be super helpful as you can move your tasks about if their prioritisation changes and add stages at all times. All of this will give you a good idea of how much you can take on.

So, when you know what’s on your plate, that’s when you can decide if you’re in a place to take more on or not. It is not a bad thing to say you don’t have the time to do something. Your boss or friends will appreciate it in the long run, it will be much kinder on your mental health and most likely save a lot of sleep deprivation!

It’s all about balance, and this simply means asking yourself “should I go out tonight, or will it compromise tomorrow’s deadline?”, though on the slip side, sometimes a night out might be what’s best for you! It’s importantly to not let FOMO keep you from remaining levelheaded and in control – if your friends are worth keeping, they’ll understand when you have work commitments or just need a little alone time!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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