12 productive alternatives to the word ‘no’

Sure you’re slammed, but it will serve you well to avoid saying ‘no’ when a colleague asks for help.

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You might need reciprocity later. Perhaps the team needs to make this client happy. And your boss might notice your extra effort. I’m not suggesting you always say “yes” at work. However, there are some productive responses besides a knee-jerk “no”; some of which have benefits that will flow back to you like a lazy river of karma.

Next time, try one of these instead of “no”:

1. “Let’s see what it entails”

Not only is this a reasonable response, but also an effective one. It helps focus the discussion on the outcome desired and some of the resources required to make that happen.

2. “Is it a priority?”

This ramps up the scrutiny of the question in No. 1. But, again, it’s reasonable and not negative like “no.”

3. “…and why is it a priority?”

Now, this query gets at the heart of things. It helps focus the analysis on whether the task or project is crucial. Certainly, it might be. But, then again, it might not. Probe the “why.”

4. “How does this fit with our other projects?”

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