Knowing how to say no is vital for those in office support and PA jobs in London. The nature of the role is such that it’s easy for colleagues and superiors to put additional tasks on your shoulders. Trying to fulfil everything can lead to you becoming stressed, overcommitted, and unable to maintain high standards for the tasks you should be doing.
Yet saying no can sometimes leave PAs and office support workers feeling like they come across as unprofessional or disrespectful. You may worry that it’ll leave you appearing disagreeable or will reflect poorly on your performance.
Know when and why to say no
Before we look at how to say no, you need to clearly understand why you should say no. It’s appropriate to say no if saying yes would jeopardise another, more important, task — or it’s unethical, illegal, or inappropriate to do so.
If you’re struggling, think of it like this: when you say yes to one thing, you’re always saying no to another. For example, if you say yes to helping your colleague complete their report, you may end up rushing the presentation slides you’re preparing for your executive.
How to say no
- Be respected
It’s easier to say no if you’re already respected and appreciated within the business. If you’re generally known for your good work ethic and helpfulness, then saying no from time to time is easier to do.
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Automatically saying no to a request “just because” won’t get you very far. By the same token, saying yes before you’ve fully considered what’s needed could land you in hot water. Always take time to ensure that you’re fully aware of what’s being asked of you before you commit either way. If necessary, take some time to think and get back to the person requesting something of you.
- Know your reasons
It’ll be easier to explain why you’re saying no if you know your reasons. By examining why you need to say no, you’ll come across as professional and reliable. For example, if your reason is that it prevents you from meeting a prior commitment, then the person asking will be more understanding than if you’re saying no purely because you don’t consider their request to be part of your job.
Don’t assume you’ve said no by omission. The person requesting may take your silence as an agreement that you’ll do what they’ve asked. Instead, make sure you clearly communicate that your answer is no and be able to say why.
- Give an alternative
Depending on who’s asking and what they’re asking, you may be able to suggest an alternative. For example, you may be able to help in the future (just not right now), or know a colleague who may be better placed to help. This will avoid you committing to the task while still conveying that you’re helpful.
With practice, and respect for yourself and your role, you’ll become more skilled at and comfortable with saying no. When done thoughtfully and respectfully, it can actually help to showcase your professionalism and commitment to your role.
If you’re continuously being expected to do far more than your role encompasses, or than your hours allow, it may be a sign that you aren’t respected in your role. It may be time to move on. If so, find out about our candidate service.
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