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Saying No...Without Saying No

07/19/2020 12:36 PM | Anonymous

As I coach leaders and executives, a common theme keeps popping up – How do I avoid work that I shouldn’t do? or How do I ensure I don’t become a “dumping ground” taking ownership of someone else’s problems?

We have all been there – 4:30 drop by, the emergency “Bob (the CEO) said he needs this by….”, your team not knowing how, the “you should do this”, random email bomb, etc.  Things that create emotion and frustration. 

Here are some quick wins for you.

Situation: Can I have your help with this?
Mentally you need to ask yourself, is this something I should do?  If the answer is no, a few options for responses are:

  • What have you tried so far?  If they have not tried anything, send them to try and they can come back if needed.
  • If it is something that is not your expertise, recommend someone who is an expert – “I would love to, I am not the best person to do this, you might check with Charlie”
  • Delay the work – say something like, “I would be happy to work with you on this, I am available is next Thursday.”  This typically shifts their focus elsewhere.
Situation: Here is a problem (dropped in your lap and they walk away)
This is one of my favorites.  First ask yourself is this YOUR problem?  If you answer no.  Ask questions and use very specific language is important:
  1. Interesting, what have YOU done so far?
  2. Wow, who have YOU talked to about that?
  3. Oh, that sounds important.  What are YOUR next steps?

Refocusing to them so they have ownership builds their capacity to solve problems and prevents a dump and run.

Each of the tactics can be used and practiced until you become a master.  The key is using them for good vs getting out of work you should do or as a leader, coaching and developing your team.  If you read this and recognize a time that I did this to you….I am sorry (I’m not sorry) – thanks Demi Lovato!!


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