noMany leaders want to be accommodating to everyone. Unfortunately, this can’t be done without jeopardizing your mental sanity and the well-being of your organization. Sometimes a leader just needs to say “no.” Some people may have difficulty with this, they think they can do everything and be everywhere. Other times leaders just don’t want to disappoint or let anyone down. And then there are some who face enormous pressure to accomplish tasks even when their schedule doesn’t allow for it. As a leader it is important to know when and how to say “no” without damaging business relationships. First, establish boundaries and stick to them. Clearly state your boundaries right from the start. Tell the people within your organization when you are available and when it is acceptable to call or drop in. This will reduce the amount of requests during busy hours when you are more likely to make an impulsive decision. However, you need to actually stick to your own rules. If you bend the rules for some your limits will not be respected and it could damage your reputation. Second, listen to your gut instincts before answering. The brain and body register information more accurately than quick emotional responses. Analyze your gut before responding, if it really doesn’t feel like something you can realistically do, then it probably isn’t. You will damage your reputation if you say “yes” and then bail on the request later on. When you are put into a situation where you want to say “no” and aren’t sure how to do it without sounding rude simply say, “Let me check my calendar.” The person making the request will not feel hurt if it appears that you genuinely want to honor their request but can’t, due to time constraints. You could also try weighing the pros and cons of a “yes” or “no” answer to the employee or coworker. Voicing your reasons out loud will help you reach the right decision and it will buy you time. Also, consider the possibility of a reciprocal favor. If you say “yes” to a request make it known that you expect a favor later on. In some cases the requester may actually re-consider. If not, this is still a win-win situation, the person gets what they wanted and you will have a favor for use at a later date. Another thing to try is to explain why you’re saying “no.” People making a request might not understand your time or budget constraints. Give them a simple concise answer. This will prevent you from sounding like you just don’t want to do it and the requester will have a better understanding of your situation without feeling put down. This may also reduce similar requests in the future. Remember, when explaining your reasoning to a “no” answer; make sure that your explanation is short and concise. Sometimes a long convoluted answer could sound like a “yes.” Clearly articulate your thought process. Another good way to say “no” is to say “yes” to the person and “no” to the task. Make sure the person understands that this is not a personal attack against them, you simply can’t accommodate their task at this time. Lastly, ask for the opportunity to discuss their request at a time when you can give the person your full attention. Remember to be aware of your own body language and tone so that it doesn’t appear like you’re blowing them off. The mark of a good leader is not someone who says “yes” all the time. No one expects you to be able to do it all. The best leaders have just found a way to say “no” without damaging business relationships. Source: Entrepreneur]]>

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