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Welcome to another edition of the #AskDavidson column, where Davidson Abishegam, the author of “8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace – The Raw Truth to Stay Ahead of the Pack”, tackles work-related questions posed by Neue readers.

Do you need some career advice?

Are you facing some difficulties in the workplace?

Feel free to send your questions over to Davidson by clicking here.Dear Davidson, how do I tell my boss ‘No’?

I am known as a ‘Yes Man’ in my office. In fact, I almost always say ‘Yes’ to new projects assigned by my higher ups.

However, the reality is that I am taking on more than I can chew. Help!

– Mr BrightsideAnswer:

Dear Mr Brightside, it seems that either you are underestimating yourself, and your higher-ups are just trying to use your potential, or you are really burning out and your managers are using you because, as you said, you are known as a ‘Yes Man’.

In any case, we all need to know how and when to say ‘no’. Learning to say ‘no’ is not a sign of weakness, it’s about rationalising your time and effort, and having self-respect.

Once you understand the request and decide you want to say ‘no’, choose the kind of ‘no’ that best suits the person and situation.

Below are some general rules to follow:

1. Say ‘no’ firmly and calmly, without saying “I’m sorry” (which weakens your position).

2. Say ‘no’ followed by a straightforward explanation of what you are feeling or what you are willing to do (“I’m uncomfortable doing that.”)

3. Say ‘no’ and then give a choice or alternative (“I can’t help you now, but I will when I get this done, which could be in an hour.”)

4. Say ‘no’ and then clarify your reasons. This does not include long-winded statements filled with excuses, justifications and rationalisations. It’s enough that you do not want to say ‘yes’. Your clarification is given to provide the receiver with more information so they better understand your position.

5. Say ‘yes’, and then give your reasons for not doing it or your alternative solution. This approach is very interesting. You may want to use it in situations when you are willing to meet the request, but not at the time or in the way the other person wants it.

For example:

“Yes, I would be willing to work on this project, but I won’t have time until tomorrow afternoon, because I’m dealing with the current tasks you gave me earlier…”

or

“Yes, I could take part in this project, but I would need someone else to work on specific parts of it together.”

or

“Yes, I’d be willing to go along with your second alternative, but not the third one you suggested”.To sum up, say your statement firmly, calmly, and as unemotionally as possible.

Be aware of your non-verbal behaviour, making sure you are coming across as neither passive nor aggressive. Use plenty of silence to your advantage: your silence will project the message that the other’s statements and manipulation are futile.

Be persistent: simply state your response one more time than the other person makes their request, question, or statement. If the other person makes six statements, you make seven. If the other person makes three statements, you make four.

Most often, the other person will feel ill at ease and stop after three or four statements. Other times, your response will move the other person to offer options you are willing to go along with.

Good luck with your bosses and thanks for reading, I look forward to next week’s segment of #AskDavidson!


(Photo: Lance Thoo/Neue)

Davidson is a certified professional trainer, business coach and management consultant.

Driven by passion, he is an engaging and versatile presenter with over 20 years of experience in the training industry. Over the course of his career, he has trained over 1,000 companies comprising start-ups, SMEs, MNCs, government agencies and others all over Southeast Asia.

Charismatic and witty, Dave has spent years perfecting his training modules to ensure easy understanding and practical learning takes place in his workshops. His key areas of guidance include essential business skills i.e. Effective Communication Skills, Professional Writing Skills, Customer Service, Handling Difficult Customers, Presentation Skills, Leadership Skills, and many more.

Dave has discovered that in order to develop better leadership and organisational cultures, a corporate culture evolution is required. His psychological based programmes are designed specifically to identify areas that will help organisations generate greater efficiency of human capital. His training methods and tools have inspired companies to re-evaluate their people management policies.

Dave is also the founder and CEO of KCOM Academy, a platform for professional and personal development courses. KCOM Academy is an extension of Dave’s firm belief that the success of a company lies in the success of its people.

As an avid musician, Dave often includes music as a motivational factor in his training sessions. Choice of music is often based on the participants preference and the topics being covered, adding an element of fun into his sessions.