How do you avoid workplace strife and learn to say no at work?
Thank so much for asking me to do more at work. I appreciate you’re trust in me, but my plate is 12” in diameter and you’re giving me three plates filled with crap!”
Okay, last week’s conference keynote ended with applause, mostly smiles and brisk book sales. It’s an honor to get paid to speak, but the real honor for me is the people I get to connect with. The workplace staff who do the heavy lifting.
They share some pretty deep things with me in confidence which we speakers are used to. We share on stage and some feel compelled to share with use in the back of the ballroom, hallway or in this case on my way to the restroom.
My bladder was full of water and I was ready let nature take its course.
Not so fast!
Rounding the corner I spotted the “Men” sign and quietly smiled as relief was literally in sight.
But, between me and the sign was the women’s bathroom. Out came three attendees who quickly stopped me, formed a half circle and began to tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation and actionable takeaways.
I was once again honored. And, I continued to give proper eye contact to each as my bladder reached Defcon 3!
Kasha was the ‘leader’ of this passionate threesome.
Them- Why doesn’t management understand how busy we are? Why do they continue to shove more work in our face as if we are multiple people?
Them- And, How in the world are we suppose to say NO! It’s not permitted. It’s a sign of laziness.
Me- I see… (trying to respond and bursting from within)
Them- We love our jobs, but our managers are all over us all the time and we’ve about had it!
Me- Wow! I can see that you’re upset and I have a couple of thoughts. May I share them with you?
Them- Share away-‘cause we need to say NO sometimes and are frightened of losing our jobs. We can’t afford that, Scott!
Me (smiling and reaching Defcon 4!) Managers often don’t realize how busy you are. They shove more work your way and have a few plates of their own they are sifting through.
Have you tried sitting down in your 1-1 meeting and showing-not telling them what you’re up against? This can work really well!
Them- Yeah, they will tell us that everyone is busy and we all have to “pitch in.”
How much “pitching in can we do before we crack or look for another job? ( All three nodding in unison.)
Me- My guess is not much longer. So, how about trying this once.
Ask your manager for 20 minutes. You’ll only need 10. SHOW them what you have going on for the next 30-60 days and the amount of hours it will take per week to complete. If it’s too much they’ll know right away.
You’re not saying no, you’re saying I need your help. I need your guidance and support. My experience is that they will assist in prioritizing, give you breathing room and even take away some less important projects.
Them- Hmm. Never tried that approach. That could work. Seems possible.
Me- Let’s chat about this some more. I just have to run to the men’s room and I meet you at the reception to continue our conversation.
Disaster averted by 1 Defcon!
The cocktail reception was great and our conversations turned to family, vacations and food!
The workplace is like many other places. It is delicate, filled with talent and emotion and in need of constant communication to grow knowledge, empower employees and increase retention.