Business Skill Development: Saying No (Part 1)
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Saying “no” isn’t easy for any of us nor does it come naturally. As career-driven professionals, retail RDs don’t want to disappoint colleagues and management, and can often feel guilty about saying “no” to requests and projects. You want to be perceived as a team player. But in reality, saying “no” is essential to the success of your programs and services as well as your professional development.
There are two parts to saying no – understanding when to say it and feeling comfortable and confident actually saying it. In this week’s article, the focus is on when to say no.
When to Say No
There are a variety of situations when it makes sense to say “no” including:
- Saying “yes” hinders your ability to accomplish your pre-established goals and stay focused on priorities. Given the multitude of responsibilities the retail RD has, prioritization is essential. You must have short- and long-term priorities you are working against and stay committed to them. If a request comes in that isn’t aligned with your priorities, you must say no to stay focused on the projects that have the most impact on your retailer’s business. Saying yes to other projects takes time away from what you are paid to do and the goals and objectives you’ve agreed to with your manager.
- When you disagree with the decision. If you fundamentally disagree with the approach on a project or question that it falls within your area of responsibility, you should feel comfortable questioning it and/or pushing back. Asking “why” is a good substitute for saying no in this situation as it drives discussion on the rationale of the project or request and allows you to share your point of view.
- Unrealistic deadlines are set. Agreeing to projects with unrealistic timing reflects directly on you and your performance as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to meet the deadline.
- The work could be more effectively accomplished by someone else. It’s essential to have a clear sense of your scope and expertise and to stay focused on projects and priorities in your lane. If a request is made that likely falls within someone else’s area of responsibility, professionally present your rejection and rationale for it. Even better, offer a solution or alternative that focuses on the right department for the task.
- You need to have time for “yes” projects. If you pack your schedule with projects that aren’t aligned with business goals or aren’t a priority, when a key project comes along, you won’t have the time to commit to it. Saying no sometimes is ensuring you have time to choose and prioritize the initiatives that deserve your limited time.
In the work environment and as detailed here, there are many professional situations where it is appropriate to say no. In next week’s article, discussion focuses on how to say no.