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scuffing the shoes

Saying “No” is hard for me because I worry how the other person will react.  They might become aggressive, or they might retract.  Either way, it feels wrong.

To be honest, it makes my stomach ache just thinking about saying “No,” especially to my boss or client.  But saying “No” is an important part of your manager toolbox.  You need to say “No” outside pressures, unrealistic timeframes and overly optimistic estimates (to put it nicely).

But sometimes your “No” can feel like stepping on someone’s toes.  If you’re worried about that, here’s some alternate “No’s:” you could try…

  • Let’s talk about why you’re proposing that.
  • I can’t agree to that today, but we could revisit next month.
  • That’s not the way our team works.
  • Not right now because…
  • Let’s wait until after…
  • Let’s discuss it after…
  • That goes against our current process of…
  • I’m concerned about that idea because…

These “No” phrases protect your team and boundaries, yet keep the conversation open for new options to arise.  They feel less confrontational because they aren’t final.  Each one leaves room for more discussion and explanation.

You might need to practice these phrases before you can say them confidently, just like I did.  I did find after I started saying “No,” I gained more respect from my peers, my boss, and my team.  Funny how when I respect my boundaries, other people start to do the same.  I bet you’ll find the same thing.

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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