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How to Succeed in the Workplace

When to Say Yes and When to Say No at Work

I was reading an article today that touted the power of yes, then I was reminded of another one I read a while back that encouraged saying no. So which is it — do I willingly open myself up to new experiences by saying yes or do I stand my ground and refuse? It all depends on the situation and you don't have to stick to one path, the best way to go about things is to balance both of them and learn when it's best to agree or refuse. Saying yes or no are really important decisions that you face every day at work. Here's when you should say no:

  • No Time: This is should be pretty straightforward, if you find yourself stretched for time, don't do it. If it's going to eat up your sleep and take time away from your work or leave you without time for leisure activities (because it's important to have a healthy work-life balance!), just say no or you may risk the chance of burning out. It's not conducive to your well being if you have too much on your plate. Remember, you don't want to be the jack-of-all-trades and the master of none.
  • Stressed Out: When you're stressed, taking on another activity, even if it's fun and challenging, will not be as enjoyable if it starts feeling more of an obligation rather a growing experience. You need to be in a good state of mind when you're agreeing to commit.
  • Pushover: If you find yourself saying yes too often and regretting agreeing to it later, you may very well be a pushover. If you know have a tendency to cave, experiment with saying no more often.
  • Hurting Feelings: If you're afraid of hurting your co-worker or boss's feelings, don't be. They understand because they've said no plenty of times before.  They'll move on, because they'll know that there will be other times when you'll say yes.

Here's when to say yes:

  • Won't Hurt: If all that can benefit you is good and not bad (don't make whimsy excuses!) then take on the challenge. If you have plenty of time, see more positives than negatives, and you're in a pretty healthy state of mind, go for it.
  • Monotonous: If your work life is getting too predictable, try to spice things up by saying yes. It can do things like bring you out of your comfort zone and would be a great learning experience for you.
  • Fear of Failure: If what's holding you back is your fear of failure and if there's not too much risk involved, don't let that paralyze you into refusing to sample new territory. If it backfires on you, you'll learn not to do it again. Think of all the successful people who didn't like failure stop them. Even J.K. Rowling, the world's first billionaire author, said "rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."
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