Sometimes we all need boundaries

Whenever I’m in a yoga pose and my instructor says nod your head yes and nod your head no, I notice that it’s always so much easier to say yes in my body.  This realization led me to think that there’s a reason I feel better saying yes. You can sometimes see it in my work environment, as on some days, I feel like I could install a revolving door on my cube with the many people that come in to ask me questions.

It’s not something I would necessarily change. I like having the answer and helping colleagues get from A to B. What gets dangerous is when I end up handling requests that fall under someone else’s responsibilities and my day gets taken over because co-workers know it’s just easier to get a correct and prompt response from me.

The 99% blog has an excellent short post on saying no…nicely Best of all, Behance provides examples of how you can set boundaries in a professional and nice manner.

Why saying no can be a good thing:

  • Small requests (usually interruptions), mean that you end up putting off projects that take up blocks of your time (real, strategic work!) It’s easy and gratifying, helping you to procrastinate, so don’t fall into the habit.
  • Sometimes, you’re doing someone else’s job. When you answer, it may take away their credibility as the expert in their role.
  • Fielding requests is time-consuming and overwhelming. I get invited to a lot of meetings. If I’m not sure I’m the right person or don’t know the purpose of the meeting, I’m the first person to opt out or ask for more information..
  • Perhaps the person you need to say no to is your boss. This could be a tricky situation depending on your relationship, but if your manager doesn’t understand your workload limitations, it’s just the beginning of a difficult time for you. Also, in this case, proposing a solution to help produce the work could be the best course.
  • The answer might not be a no, but instead a not right now. As a project manager, I often find myself in the middle, or perhaps in a situation where I don’t have the authority to give a definitive answer. Instead of saying ‘yes’ and getting into trouble later, it’s fine to set realistic expectations with partners.

Saying no can be difficult, but practice makes perfect.  It’s also not as negative as it sounds. When you get overtaken with the small requests, you might find yourself saying no when you should be saying yes to certain projects. No one likes feeling buried and overwhelmed.

When you understand your own limitations at work based on your job scope and your time, co-workers will appreciate your candor and in the end, better results from your work.

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