Can you say “NO”?

no-yes“Some people just can’t say NO,” my friend said. He was talking about a potential client who strung him along for weeks with requests for proposals and information, but made no commitment. Why couldn’t the client just say “NO, I’m not interested”? Saying NO can be uncomfortable and many of us avoid it.

In the workplace, hourly employees often feel they should say NO but don’t quite know how to do this. For example, manager asks hotel room attendant to tend to an area outside the room (vacuum the hallway, clean a stain on the hallway carpet). This is clearly not part of his/her job, but how do you say NO to your boss? Room attendant may reluctantly complete the extra task, but fall behind in his/her other work. Co-workers are angry because now they will be expected to do the same extra jobs. Workers may involve Human Resources and/or the Union to clarify job duties, and the room attendant may be scapegoated and shunned by peers.

Incidents like the one described above are costly – in terms of time and productivity (employees on all levels working to resolve the issue) and customer service suffers (everyone is in HR sorting this out, rather than on the floor cleaning guest rooms).
SO, it is worth the investment to teach employees how to communicate effectively and handle difficult situations like this one. The hallway will be vacuumed and carpet stain removed in a timely fashion by the appropriate worker.