Whether you are a young professional fresh out of college or a seasoned veteran entering your first day at your new company, making a strong first impression will always be one of the biggest priorities at the workplace. It is, in itself, an inauguration to the position and professional brand you want to establish the minute you walk through those doors. But as much as it is important to please those around you, it is absolutely imperative that you learn the concept and power to say ‘no’ to certain things.
In today’s society, we are driven by our ideals and endeavors to be the Jack-of-all-Trades at whatever company or organization you are affiliated with. While I will never reprimand a person for giving it their best to a particular position, I will say that when it comes to success, success and all of its glory will come when you know how to pick your battles. To this, I mean saying ‘no.’
Like many others, saying ‘no’ can be an incredibly difficult thing. With the word yes, you are not just accepting new and exciting opportunities, but also assuming new responsibilities for leadership and growth. While the positive gains will always favor that of saying ‘yes,’ you also have to live in the realm of reality. Not everyone can do XYZ while also managing an entire company. Understanding the limits and negative impacts that the word ‘yes’ can have can save you from undoing your success.
To start, as much as saying yes gives you opportunities for success, it also gives you ever-growing responsibilities for stress and anxiety. With a new task, you will be forced to assume various roles that go beyond the standard. Now, it never hurts to assume those particular roles. But if you know said-opportunity will hinder your work, it is your job to evaluate whether or not the overall return on investment and sacrifice is worth the hassle. Yes, you will need these chances to grow, but you also do not want to risk your own personal work because of the addition assignments you take on. Make sure you know your limits. Many young professionals are blinded by the opportunity to move up within the ladder that they end up shooting themselves in the foot because they were not paying attention to their initial responsibilities. If you know the additional assignments are too much for you, just say no. The only harm a simple ‘no’ can do is that the new assignment will be given to another person.
Now to speak more about saying ‘no,’ the one thing every business will tell you is that quality is, and will always be, better than quantity. It is a simple concept taught to us throughout our formative years but has somehow lost its way when it comes to the corporate environment. While handing a bunch of tasks and completing them will always be seen as an achievement, nothing can showcase your strengths and professional development than the quality of your work. The simple reason is that quality is everything. It provides a stronger attraction and holds a more lucrative profit than anything in the world. When it comes to saying ‘no,’ you want to make sure that those opportunities you do say ‘yes’ to will not impact the quality of your current work. Yes, the work itself will change because of the amount of task you will be assuming, but if you know that the standard of your work will greatly suffer, then say ‘no’ might be your best option. Think of this in baseball terms, if you want to knock it out of the park, one home run will always be better than two doubles. Make your standards and your quality your top priority. Anything else should be secondary unless you know you can handle both tasks.
Lastly, after assessing the request and evaluating an opportunity’s benefits, make sure you say no in a proper and respectful way. Harvard Business Review goes over this concept and outlines specific tips that can help you through this process. First and foremost, after politely declining the opportunity, still show a willingness to pitch, even if it is in a small way. The ability to still be an asset will showcase your versatility and respect within the office. In addition, practice saying ‘no.’ The more you do it, the better and easier it will become. Make sure you are cognizant of your tone and provide a specific logical reason for bowing out at the opportunity. The more transparent and understanding you can be, the better.