You’d be hard pressed to find a finance professional that wasn’t in a time crunch. There are a hundred different tasks to be completed each day and somehow many people find themselves taking on more responsibilities throughout the day. The problem? An aversion to just saying ‘no.’
But the word ‘no’ is one of the most important words in any professional’s vocabulary. Everything you put your name on, whether it be a departmental project, a company-wide initiative or a simple email, should be of the highest standard. Saying ‘yes’ to too many tasks can be directly detrimental to this type of quality – remember, it’s better to do six things exceptionally than 12 things adequately.
But how can we become more comfortable with declining new projects or tasks (or even simple lunch invitations on busy days)? Let’s check out some simple tips.
1. Outline some ground rules
Try starting each week with a priority list. Sit down and pinpoint your main responsibilities for the week ahead. Put the list somewhere visible. Whenever you are asked to help with a new task or project, ask yourself: Does this contribute to my main goals? If not, it’s probably not something you should prioritise over your day-to-day activities.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to say no to everything that doesn’t advance your priorities – you still want to be a team player. However, making these lists can help you determine what you can and can’t do on weeks you are in a particular time crunch.
The word ‘maybe’ doesn’t give anyone the information they need to move forward.
Don’t overload your busy schedule by forgetting to say ‘no’.
2. Avoid the word ‘maybe’
‘Maybe’ is what we refer to as a placeholder word. It doesn’t give anyone the information they need to move forward. Whenever possible, you want to be direct in your communications. Don’t tell someone ‘maybe’ when the answer is really ‘no’ – it can be tempting to default on the ‘maybe’ option when you’re uncomfortable declining.
3. Frame with appreciation
The word ‘no’ doesn’t have to be delivered in a rude manner. In fact, it shouldn’t be in a professional environment. Whenever you have to decline a task or a request, make sure you add a layer of appreciation. A simple “thanks for thinking of me” can go a long way in making the word ‘no’ less daunting.
At the end of the day, exercising your right to say ‘no’ is all about improving your time management. It enables you to dedicate your attention to excelling where you need to – ultimately making you a better employee overall.
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