The art of saying “no” is a skill that separates mere Experts from Master Experts. It’s the ability to objectively look at your workload and decide which task must be done, and which one is less important.
You need to explore your inner “no” settings. To do so, you can use these techniques:
Make a note of every time you regretted saying yes and how that derailed your workload and had the greatest impact. Start planning how you might effectively and authentically push back diplomatically on those requests. What support might you need ahead of time to do so?
Run the movie: run a replay of a typical conversation and reimagine it. What might you say, and what might your stakeholder say in return? Prepare for likely responses and practice how you will sensibly answer their questions and deal with their concerns.
Having made a list of tasks you really want to push back on, take action, and then review that list in a month’s time. How well did you do? Did the new tactics work? If not, why not? What tactics might you deploy instead?
Don’t give up if it really is important for you to decline that work.
Did you find this tip helpful? You can find many more in our book Master Expert: How to use Expertship to achieve peak performance, seniority and influence in a technical role.
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