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Admin Pro Forum

How do you train yourself to say ‘No’?

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Question: "I think I'm in need of some sort of training that will teach me to turn down tasks and projects that gobble up too much time, or that I just don't want to get involved in. I fear that as an admin for 15 years, I've been conditioned to say 'Yes' to whatever comes my way. Has anyone out there made a conscious effort to break from the agree-then-regret trap? How did you go about it?" - Monica, Email Marketing Account Coordinator

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

KF June 19, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Like another commenter, I think you just need to be more comfortable saying no. I often don’t mind assisting others with small tasks or projects, but when I know that I have a lot on my plate, I either ask the person asking for help if there’s someone else who can help them or if it’s something that’s an emergency. Often times, there is someone else who can help as well or the person asking is able to do it themselves and they have just been enabled to rely on you (the AA) to help. I also try to provide resources to the person asking so they can take care of the task on their own. Due to time constraints or other commitments, sometimes it’s just not possible to assist. In the past, I’ve even thrown out my supervisors name (e.g. “I’m sorry but X has me working on this right now…”) so that the person asking for help understands that the supervisor’s request has priority over theirs. I’ve learned over time that it’s also good to be a little selfish to say no and protect yourself as well. Don’t be afraid to say no or feel guilty for doing so. Being able to say no also shows that you have boundaries and that you are aware of your own limitations. Yes, it’s part of your job as an AA to help others, but getting your own tasks and responsibilities done is also important. Take care of you.


Barbi C June 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm

In my long career so far, no once did I turn down a request; but a week ago when asked if I could do a task I just said ‘No, I can’t as I have numerous deadlines’. I felt uncomfortable saying it but once it was said, I did feel better because there was no additional pressure on me. In future, it won’t be that difficult now.


Mel June 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm

I trained myself to start sentences with “I’ll have to see if…” The rest of that sentence can be anything from “…my schedule is going to allow it” or something specific like “I don’t get tied up on Tuesday with meetings.” The important thing was to lock that phrase in my mind so it became second nature to speak it.


CB June 16, 2017 at 11:02 am

You need to be more comfortable with saying “no.” It just takes some practice. For example, anticipate a situation where you’ll want to to say “no.” Let’s say you can reasonable predict that Joe will be back to ask you for one more favor. Write down what you want to say: “No, not this time, “Joe.” Then rehearse your response. When Joe drops by, your turn-down line will flow right out.


Gail P. June 16, 2017 at 10:39 am

I trained myself to fall back on ‘Let me get back to you.’ This always buys me time to really mull things over before I commit, and it’s a great way to really evaluate your desire to do something. Not just at work either; it works wonders with party invites and the like!


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