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Career Advice: Learn It's Okay to Say No

Posted by Brian Spence on Feb 12, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Career AdviceEmbracing "it's okay to say no" can be difficult at any stage in your career. Learning to say no keeps what doesn't belong in your career and life from crowding out what should be there. Make room for the career you want by learning to say no.

Ignoring Intuition

Sometimes you have a sense something isn't quite right when you're presented with a new project, job opportunity, or business partnership. Your intuition is telling you to say no. However, you agree to move forward instead. You're not alone. Ignoring intuition is commonplace. That leads to the following question.

Why Do You Say Yes When You Want to Say No?

Often a yes is a means to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. Fear is another reason for an inappropriate yes. You may be afraid that you'll miss an opportunity to advance your career. Your fear could be the requester will be angry or disappointed if you say no. Perhaps you're afraid of hurting the requester's feelings. Learning to say no includes accepting you aren't responsible for other people's reactions.

Setting Boundaries is Essential

When you say yes to everything, you risk becoming overwhelmed. You can keep from falling into that trap by setting boundaries. Decide what you want from your career. You may even want to write your career goals down. When you get a request, evaluate it to see if it fits into your career plan. A polite but firm no should characterize your response to requests that don't fit your plan. The exception is you may want to say yes if a true once in a lifetime opportunity comes along.

Start Slowly

If you're accustomed to saying yes to everything, saying no won't come naturally. Start using your no in your private life to make baby steps toward saying no in your career. You can begin easily with a stranger like saying no to the fast food cashier who's trying to up-sell you. With practice, soon you won't have a problem saying no to anyone.

For more information on this and related topics, visit the Career Advice section of our blog.


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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.