4 Ways to Say No without Saying “No”!

There’s a big difference between being an order taker and being a performance consultant. Order takers say yes to everything, whereas performance consultants know how and when to say no. 

Saying yes might "miss the mark" even when we're pleasing the stakeholder.

We need to know when to say no and when to say yes.

When to say no

Well, it’s easier said than done. Here are some times when a performance consultant says no:

  • It’s not a training solution 
  • Their plate is already full 
  • The timeline is too short
  • Resources aren’t there
  • The need is actually different than what the stakeholder wanted

All of these situations, there’s a good reason to say no. Saying yes won’t give you the result your stakeholder is looking for. So even though saying “no” feels confrontational, it can actually be a key part of working as a team.

How to say no

It’s possible to say “no” without actually saying “no”! Here’s 4 ways to say “no” and scenarios when you could use them:

  1. Scenario:  When you’re asked to do something with an exceptionally short deadline.
    Saying No: “Sounds like a really quick turnaround. Under normal circumstances, this would not be a problem. With this deadline, I’d like to explore other options that may meet the need.”
  2. Scenario: When you’re asked in a meeting for an estimated timeframe for a complex project.
    Saying No:  I’d like to think about it so I can provide a more accurate estimate. Could you send me more information so I can review it carefully? Then I’ll be in a better position to discuss it with the team. 
  3. Scenario: When people ask you to do something instead of the appropriate person
    Saying No: I think that Steve in HR would be more equipped to meet this need. Do you know Steve, or would you like me to connect you?
  4. Scenario: When a business unit head asked you to tackle a new high priority project, but you are already working on another important initiative and can’t do both.
    Saying No: Wow, thank you for thinking of me! I am already working on another important project, but this sounds important too. Let me discuss with my leader and see how we can support. 

Performance consultants know when, and how, to say no. It is a differentiator between how order takers and performance consultants operate.

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