l learned that saying no is not that hard not on an easy route, but at in the end it worked out well for me.

But let’s start at the beginning. I was, and pretty much still am, a person who loves saying yes to all the work coming my way. Even grabbing work somebody else should do, or at least could do.

saying no is not that hard

At one point in my live I was doing exactly that. I was working on a big project as a product manager. There were a lot of resources tied to it and a lot of pressure to get a good outcome. I am sure you know that situation well. This is when I learned that saying no is not that hard.

Of course a lot of new tasks appeared that had to be done in order to make the product a success. I did give everybody else about 5 seconds to commit. When nobody committed to the task I stepped in. Because nobody else would :-).

And since I am a person true to the word I did all the tasks. What I did is, go to work early in the morning till late, went home and thought a bit more about work. Even when I went to bed I still jungled all my to dos in my head, finally falling asleep one hour before having to get back up.

You can guess where this ended, but this is for another day.

So my body forced me to change something. I started in the project meetings. When a task came up I did not stay calm. Because by then, the team was sure I would take the task if they kept quiet long enough. But instead of saying “ok I do it” I went down another path. I thought about who would be the right person to do it and suggested that. In most of the cases that was also was the better decision for the project itself. And it got me out of doing things that weren’t my job.

Workshop “Time to reflect”

Time to reflect

Do you see the fog or the possibilities?
REFLECT what you want!

Saying no is not that hard, you don’t have to actually use the word

So now you might think, well this is not saying “no”, it is just doing her job. And yes, you are right, but for me that was already a big step towards the goal to say “no”. With this small step I also stopped feeling like the only responsible person for the success of the project. That lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders.

With that success I also dared the next step, saying actually “no”. I started with the obvious. When somebody came up to me and asked me to do something, which really was the task of another team member, I send that person there. And I can tell you that did not feel good at the beginning. I did not have to do it, but was laying awake at night thinking what a selfish person I am. But nobody complained, so with time and practice I was getting good at that and also feeling good with it.

Now came the biggest task at all, saying “no” to a task that actually would have been mine, but I did not have the time for it. Because you know how it is, everything is always important. So first I started this with things that were not related to my project, but some other thing. I started practicing that and the world kept spinning. Also, my co-workers didn’t start to look down at me because I did not manage. Only after that, was I able to say no to things concerning my project and either finding help if it needed to be done or skipping a task that was not that important at all.

And still now, after some years of practice, my first impulse is to say „I do it”, because it is just who I am.

I learned that saying no is not that hard and some more:

  • Listen closely to my body
  • Let others do their work
  • If you work like a mad woman nobody thinks less of you if you ask for help, so do it
  • Saying no does not make me a bad person

I do hope that inspires some of you to start with the first small step towards saying no today!

If you have been in similar positions or are still in one try out some of the things.

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