Navigating the variety of personalities, behaviours and managing styles in the working environment can get tricky.

Sometimes learning when you can say no to a task or request can feel like a minefield.

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We spoke to Celeste Stewart, the founder of Bold Curiosity, a learning and people development consultancy business. Celeste shared the following tools necessary to effectively communicate ‘no’ at work.

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Don’t just say no, have a conversation

In the event that you would need to decline a task or offer, you should explain the reasons why and offer alternatives to what has been suggested. Don’t confront a colleague in front of others because if you are a person in a reporting position you have more to lose.

Example: Start with the positives and list what you enjoy doing and offer alternatives for what you don't feel comfortable taking on or have no capacity to do.

Address a skills gap

If there’s a skills gap, explain to the colleague the competencies you have and what your shortcomings are at that and make alternatives recommendations. Celeste says sometimes it is necessary to redirect the task to another person or another resource.

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You can let the person know, which area you are competent in and explain where you are lacking to explain why you are not prepared to take the opportunity to execute the task as yet.

Example: These are the skills that I’m lacking, would you be open to me working with someone on this project?

Unreasonable expectations

If you are expected to use your own resources for business purposes, arrange a meeting with the person to discuss the issue when you are calm and not frantic.

Example: Over the past months I have incurred the following personal expenses in order to do a task. Doing the task is very important to me but I can’t continue forking out my own my personal resources to do this. What are the alternatives?

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