Saturday, July 08, 2006

It's Okay To Say "No!"

Far too many African Americans have been conditioned to believe that we can’t say “no” at work, especially to a White person. So, no matter how much our gut is telling us that something can’t be done, might be unethical, isn’t worth the reward, is redundant, should be done by someone else or another department, can’t be done in the proposed timeline (no matter how many people work on the project) or is just plain wrong, we’ll agree to do it because we are too afraid to say “no!”

But, part of any person’s job is being able to discern appropriate vs. inappropriate work, informing people of limitations they may not be aware of or are ignoring, knowing that you should not engage in unethical conduct, being able to identify work that is fiscally irresponsible, etc. So, it’s okay to tactfully tell someone about any issues that present themselves regarding your assignments or proposed assignments.

Yes, people don’t like to hear the word, “no.” But, that’s their business. Sometimes, you have to go there. If problems are encountered and you did not speak up, you will get all or some of the blame for not saying “no” to the request or for not checking with someone else. You can also get in trouble for taking on too many little tasks that prevent you from concentrating on the main focus of your job. Don’t let people bog you down who are just trying to lessen their own workload by pawning it off on someone who will do it without question. If you have to tell someone “no,” offer solutions on how to get the task done, inform them about alternative options, provide other staffing choices, get a second opinion or check with your supervisor for guidance.

Don’t worry about a person holding a grudge because you shut them down. If they are that childish, that’s on them. You can’t control how people respond. But, you can control your own actions.


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