How to say “no” to employees at work

There will be times when you will receive requests for them to be absent for an extended period or take sabbaticals, to change the terms of their contract so that they can work only part-time, move to another department, get financial support for an MBA or work from home, or any other request that might actually be reasonable and even contain great ideas. See, in addition to making requests, maybe your staff can make creative suggestions as well, yet you cannot accept them. In short, you usually take great satisfaction in giving them full support, but there are contexts in which you cannot say “yes” without being irresponsible.

You know, you might want to be the best boss in the world. Be a comprehensive and respectful colleague, yet the company will expect you to say “no” to your employees from time to time. This video will help those who want to learn how to say “no” to their employees at work.

1. Respect your staff as adults

First of all, you must appreciate the human dimension of relationships in your workplace. If you have access to Arata Academy’s communication course, which is “How to Say No”, you have noticed that one of the main human needs is recognition, it’s the need to feel that we are important, we deserve attention and dignity. In case you don’t know the course “How to Say No” yet, please visit this link here.

If you are a manager, a director or the president of a company, at times you may feel like a psychological hook is leading you to the role of parents who want to raise their children as best as possible. And a good upbringing of children requires the setting of healthy boundaries. Saying “yes” all the time is not the best thing, as it may spoil the children, right?

Since you value progress and even the survival of your company or department, there will be times when you will need to decline a request from your staff. But you cannot behave as if you were dealing with little children who don’t understand things and need to get a “no” from an adult. Your employees are adults and regardless of their hierarchical level in the company they deserve to be treated on an equal footing and with dignity.

This first tip seems to be obvious to many people, but you will be impressed when you are with a group of senior professionals who are in management positions and who grumble on how their employees are clueless and ask for absurd things, as if they were kids. This mental way of looking at your relationship with your staff will distance you from the level of respect that is required to deliver an effective “no”. And when we say “effective ‘no’”, that means a “no” that will be understood and respected by the employee. If you say “no” to your staff the same way you say “no” to a child, you will only cause outrage, the employees will swallow hard and build up resentment, and before long they will be looking for other job opportunities.

How To Say No class Arata Academy

2. Understand the request, the motivation and the context

The problem is that your employee has probably thought several times before approaching you to make their request.

What’s more, if you have got some good people on your team, it’s very likely that they have been feeding their emotional bank account long before asking you for something. In other words, maybe they have been working hard in recent months and giving their best in times of crisis, when you needed them most. Do you know what I mean? So it’s quite likely that as far as they are concerned their request is really reasonable and they feel like they deserve to be given a “yes” from you. And when you say “no”, that can be a big turn-off.

Therefore, you should never assume that you have already understood the request, the motivation behind it or the context of it.

Your first impulse, especially if you are always in a great rush to finish your tasks, is to say that you have understood the request, have assessed the possibility. This rush will make your  “yes” or “no” to be delivered right away. Hold that impulse, take a deep breath and remember this video. Before saying “yes” or “no”, show a bit of curiosity and ask for further information. And so you will allow the acknowledgment at emotional level to happen, and the employee will see that you are treating them with respect. You will learn valuable information at that time.

One thing that happens often is that the employee will feel a bit shy, anxious or nervous when putting their request forward. For that reason, there is a chance of them not expressing themselves clearly or forgetting to say something important.

One extra tip, therefore, is for you to say that you cannot give them an answer at that moment and that you will need them to submit the request in writing. Ask them to write the request down briefly, with the motivation and the context. This will allow both of you to assess the matter calmly, in order to ward off bad communication issues. The written request will also be more objective and professional.

Furthermore, the written communication will enable you to forward the request to other departments, such as the finance and legal departments, before you authorise or reject it.

3. Learn how to say “no” to suggestions and ideas

Imagine a situation in which your staff are very excited about a certain idea they present you, but that you cannot accept because it isn’t consistent with the general plans of the company.

How To Say No class Arata Academy

Before you dismiss the idea, you must note something very important. You have got engaged employees. These are people who are actively thinking up ways to improve work.

Since they don’t have the same experience and all the background information on several other things that are going on within the company as you do, their suggestion may not be suitable, but their attitude is valuable. Therefore, you don’t want to turn them off by saying “no” without explaining why. This would lower people’s level of engagement and little by little you would end up with a staff who don’t care about anything and only do the bare minimum.

That’s why it’s important that you always recognise what they are bringing you. Explain them your decision and talk a little more about the reason why you are rejecting their suggestion. That way, you will be appreciating their opinion and won’t look like that kind of closed person. Thank them for their suggestion. Keep the doors open, explaining that the fact that they are bringing you suggestions and ideas is invaluable and that they can come to you whenever they have any questions and ideas.

4. Set clear and consistent rules

You can avoid problems simply by setting clear policies for decision making. If your employees understand the rules, everything will be easier.

What you don’t want is to come up with new rules and new exceptions all the time. That may give the impression that decisions in your company depend on your mood or on the staff being able to win over your friendship, and this would lead to favouritism and unprofessional attitudes.

Be clear and respectful in your communication. Your decision must be based on what is best for the company. Explain the reason why you are rejecting the request in a clear and transparent way. Show how the company’s interests are being affected by your decision making.

In addition to clarity, you need to be firm. Don’t make up excuses. If you use many softeners in your communication, saying that “you’re sorry”, that “you would love to say yes, but it’s difficult”, this will look like some kind of invitation for your staff to keep on insisting. You may be sending a confusing signal and they will think that if they ask in a different way there is the chance of you saying “yes”.

Finish up your conversation with a positive tone. Use your creativity together with the employee to think of ways for you to be able to achieve a positive response.

Always remember to acknowledge them. Don’t make your staff feel embarrassed. Explain that suggestions and requests are important for commitment and good communication. Keep the door open for them to continue making new suggestions and requests. Explain the reason behind your “no” and tell them that, should conditions change, you may review the matter in case there’s a real possibility of saying “yes”.

Whenever you have trouble communicating clearly, you can watch the videos of the course “How to Say No” as many times as needed – it’s a crash course that you can start and finish today and it’s got many exercises to help you change the way you communicate both in personal and professional contexts.