How Great Business Leaders Say No Without Burning Bridges

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Business owners tend to be optimistic about their ability to get things done, but if you want to accomplish your goals you will need to learn how to say no without damaging your business relationships. There is simply not enough time in the day to fulfill every request or tackle every project. Here are some tips for how to say no diplomatically.

How to Say Now No Without Burning Bridges:

  • Create boundaries beforehand: Rather than managing your time reactively, take a proactive approach to setting your priorities. Make it clear to everyone what kinds of requests you will and will not fulfill, then consistently honor these boundaries. This will let everyone know that when you deny or delay a request it is not personal.
  • Explain your time limitations before deciding: Before giving an answer either way, let the person know the time restraints you currently face. Explain the reasons why you may not be able to do the task. If you end up saying no, they will know why. If you end up saying yes, they will still understand that your time is limited and valuable.
  • Don’t beat around the bush: There is a difference between being polite and being unclear. You must say no. You can’t hint otherwise, or else you risk creating the wrong expectation. Nothing is worse than giving someone the impression that they have your time when in fact they do not. This will damage your reputation and your personal brand. Give a firm but polite no.
  • Never say yes in the moment: One easy way to take on too many obligations is to rely on impulse and memory to make your scheduling decisions. You run the risk of committing to the wrong projects, or even double booking. Instead, always ask for time to check your calendar. This gives you both the time you need to decide if the task is worth the time and a chance to double check your availability. Even if you decide you don’t have the time, checking your calendar shows that you made the effort.

As you continue to become more successful, one of the biggest challenges will be managing your limited time. Unlike money and other resources, you will never get more hours in your day. Learning how to create reasonable expectations and protect your time without coming off as rude is a crucial business lesson.

Garland & Mason, LLC is law firm of New Jersey business lawyers with a passionate for helping their clients achieve business success.


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