Saying No Without Putting Your Career at Risk

Saying No Without Putting Your Career at Risk

April 19, 2015
by Peg Rowe | no comments

Saying No Without Putting Your Career at Risk
One of the key principles we believe in at Tiara is an essential skill to develop as you grow in your career is the ability to make powerful requests and to have clear promises and agreements, and so Tiara has been leading programs and conversations about finding your voice as a professional woman.
It can be hard for women to voice their opinions and make requests in the workplace. The concept to remember is that there are only 3 possible outcomes to any clear request: a yes, a no, or a renegotiation.  So if it is so vital to our success in life, why are so many women so bad at making request?
In a recent survey we found that the majority of women say they get stopped because they are afraid of getting a no. What happens as a result is that most of the women stop requesting and just keep piling onto their plate, creating a dangerous and unproductive cycle.
In past Tiara programs, we have often been told, “You say that I have the right to say yes, no, or renegotiate, but really I don’t.  In my company the request always requires a yes, and if I say no, I am really concerned that I will be derailing my career.”
First, let me separate two very important themes out of that previous statement.
If you do not have the right to say no, then it is not a valid request, it is a DEMAND.  Now, it might be couched as a request, but if the receiver of the request does not have a choice, and is not free to say NO,  it is not a request.
The second part of the comment requires a little more finesse. No one ever gets ahead in life or in their career by being a naysayer, but there are times when saying NO is perfectly acceptable.  The reality is that most of us will enter into a renegotiation as opposed to a simple NO.
Making clear requests, not demands, is a critical part of effective leadership.  A leader’s job is to set a vision and inspire the team to achieve that vision.  If they could accomplish it on their own, they wouldn’t need the team – and they would not be leading anyone, they would be an individual contributor.  Being able to inspire others to take action is a critical leadership skill.  Making clear requests is the key to accessing those results.


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