Recently on a WhatsaApp Group, I shared a poster on “how to say no” in different ways. Originally, the post was received well and there were a few tangential jokes on how we need to say “no” to our home partners giving kind suggestions on the menu.
Then, someone who used one of the suggestions on the poster, reverted that she received adverse comments for being “rude” and “curt”. Naturally, we were all wondering about our own abilities to say “no”.
Since I was the originator of the post that got this result, I felt like having to suggest more! I mentioned I have heard someone use the priorities list already on their table and what to drop off. To this I was told that managers very nicely deflect this with “You are senior enough to know what to avoid”. Talk about ‘damned if you do,…’.
One question came up about why do they ask us if we can do something, if they cannot accept a “no”.
I understand that as a manager your job is to get work done but, have you pondered why would anyone avoid work unless they were truly feeling stretched? Is your job limited to passing your pressures to others?
Of course, this made me wonder if I had overloaded my teams with unnecessary burdens and their polite “no” was unheard by me! The point is if someone says no, do you (and I) have the courage to accept it too?
As the world moves towards kindness as a core component of leadership, hopefully we will have the courage to understand and accept time realities and not expect 12-18 hours work (let’s not even get to the quality!) from those around us.