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  • Lawrfm 2005, Revised 2015 Copyright

    How to Say NO

    with Positive Results

  • Worries from Saying NO

    Antagonizing people -- I cannot say NO because people may think I am not helpful and may dislike me, desert me from the group, and I do not want to make people unhappy

    Fear of power / authority -- I cannot say NO, because he/she is my boss / superior / senior

    Sympathy -- he/she really cannot do it. If I do not help him/her, he/she will be in big trouble

    Lack of skills / personality -- I simply do not know how to say NO

    Justifications -- the more I do, the better the appraisal on my performance, the better my personal relationship with colleagues


  • Say NO Responsibly Helps Everybody

    Cognitive re-structure Saying NO is reacting

    positiviely to people

    Saying YES but actually you want to say NO is hurting people

    Say NO Responsibly

    Say NO Helpfully

    Say NO Happily

  • Saying NO is Positive Response

    Direct people to the right resource

    Assure quality of the work done

    Make everybody happy ultimately

  • Saying YES but actually Want to Say NO

    Create false expectations

    Suppress emotions

    May not be the right resource to handle the task Quality of work not assured

    Risk that nobody will be happy in the end The unhappiest party will most probably be you

    You help, but not wholeheartedly. People can tell and may not appreciate what you have done. You will feel terrible and be upset if you have sacrified something along the way.

  • How to Say NO

    Say No with a recommendation / alternative That you are not saying NO, but offering an

    alternative way to achieve what is desired

    Diction / Language Avoid negative words like

    I cannot, This is not my work

    Use postive language like I may not be the right person to help you. How

    about .

    Thanks for having confidence in me doing this task, however, I am not trained in this aspect. Perhaps

    Answer a request with a question. For instance May I know why you think I can help? Through

    converstion, find an opportunity to brief him/her your core duties are not appropriate for the job. This approach also creates an informal atmosphere to discuss things in details and in a more amiable manner

  • How to Say NO (contd)

    Buy time, or to get help For instance, I am not sure how I

    can be of help. Let me think about it and come back to you. Or I need to discuss it with my boss on time management and division of work, can I come back to you? Important that you need to go back fast -- within a day or two to say NO.

    Use external resources to help say

    NO For instance, clash of job

    schedules, or on holiday Risk. When the party changes

    schedule, it makes it more difficult to say NO

    For instance, send an email to your boss and request clarification of your work duties, then forward / share the answer email to justify you cannot provide assistance

  • How to Say NO (contd)

    Preemptive appraoch Say NO first before a request is made

    For instance, in discussing a project, describe your job role and identify the work scope.


    We can help with the planning and concept development, but as for the logistics of the venue and catering, you need to find people to handle it.

    I can help you identify the appropriate governemnt contact and brain-storm ideas, but the follow-up and the actual program logistics, your team needs to handle that.

  • Things to Avoid in Saying NO

    Delay If you decide to say NO, say it fast

    without unnecessary delay

    Unclear message Say NO in a precise and

    straighforward manner. Do not leave any room for misunderstanding

  • END Contact