Saying ‘No’ and the Destruction of your Future

July 21, 2009

Ever been in the middle of your work, the regular kind as well as dabbling in some other smaller projects, when you see a shadow over your shoulder?


Ok you’ve got a few options.

  1. “Yeh, flat out, give me a moment.”
  2. “Not really, what’s up?”
  3. Some mixture of the two

I know what goes through my head.  I am busy and want to portray this, but I also want to be seen to be helping out the boss.  I also have a fear that if I don’t take on board what they want done, something interesting will be handed to someone else.  Finally (yes I must be a little paranoid) what happens if I’m passed over in the future because last time I didn’t take it up.  So I come to the conclusion that by refusing this work, my career as I know it will be over.

I answer, “What have you got for me?”  And so my boss launches into an inevitably vague description and leaves me at it.  More expectations, more work and the resulting more pressure.  Don’t get me wrong, I really thrive on being the go-to-man who gets stuff done, but sometimes an inability to say “No” can really get me in a pickle.  So now my growing list of things to get done means more people are relying on me (networking I’ll leave to another day), but I find that quality and timeliness inevitably drops off.

I suppose I’m always hunting for ways to combat this.  I could realise that my manager won’t ignore me in the future for knocking some stuff back.  I could realise that a lot of the time quality prevails over quantity.  Or I could realise that saying “Not at the moment” isn’t necessarily career suicide.  But still, what happens if this time it is really that ‘George Foreman Grill’ chance?


One Response to “Saying ‘No’ and the Destruction of your Future”

  1. Hi,
    This is a very interesting point you have raised, I think at some point in our professional career we have all had those exact thoughts running through our heads as the boss stands there waiting for the answer. In my experience I am very rarely able to say “NO” and I find someway to get it all done but at what cost? My personal time, My quality of work… I think the best way to avoid such pressure is through a diligent manager who already knows what you are working on and thus can work in with your time managed tasks a little better to make such situations a little more comfortable.

    There is a new trend emerging called “unified productivity” (UP) where by a lot more of your everyday applications will be logging to a central database which can in turn be used to help you manage tasks and communicate work load to the manager thus potentially avoiding such situations altogether. Alas we will have to deal with the stress until UP comes to the rescue.

    Great post though, I shall subscribe to your RSS Feed.

    Lee Tsiamis

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