Most chefs find it difficult to say NO when asked to do something. Somewhere along the line, for any number of reasons, we have become conditioned to do what others ask. It is, however, a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments. You simply spread yourself too thin and won’t get anything done on time – or at all. Especially in hospitality, you constantly get requests for your time; via phone, email or in person. If you want to stay productive and minimise stress, you need to recognise the power of and learn the art of Saying NO.
The solution to effective self-management is actually quite simple. You need to be able to prioritise and say NO to the things less important than others. We all have 24 hours a day, so if you say YES to something, what do you have to say NO to?
For a very long time I used to say YES to everything. I was literally ‘Yes Man’ as played by Jim Carrey. I carr(ey)ed the belief that saying NO was rude and impolite. It took me years to realise that I said yes to everything because I wanted to be liked by everyone. However, even though I constantly said yes, I still didn’t manage to be liked by everybody!
As you can imagine, this led to frustration, disappointment and taking on additional work from lazy people unloading their unwanted tasks. YES, I was a very dependent person at the time. I earned other’s trust in a highly unresourceful way (everybody knew I got things done on time, as I wanted to be liked) but their respect for me was going down the drain. I had no backbone, couldn’t say YES to myself and subsequently couldn’t say NO to others. Thank god that this personal strategy didn’t pay off; otherwise I would still be running around trying to please everybody but myself…
But why is it so hard to say NO? To start with, and as mentioned above, we all carry the fear of being rejected. It can hurt, anger or disappoint the other person if you are saying NO. Second, especially in hospitality, you usually hope to work with this person in the future, and want to maintain a good relationship. Saying NO in the wrong way could jeopardise the good working relationship.
Below are a few tips on how to say NO in a nice way:
- Value your time – know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is.
- Know your priorities – Even if you do have a little time at hand, is this new commitment really how you want to use that time?
- Practice makes perfect – Saying NO often is a good way at getting better at it. If somebody is persisting, keep saying NO. They will eventually get the message.
- No apologies and being nice– it might be polite, but gives the impression of weakness. Be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.
- Say NO to your manager – it is not a way of saying that you cannot handle the work. It is a way of explaining to your manager that you do not want to jeopardise your existing commitments. If the manager insists, ask him/her to re-prioritise.
- I’ll let you know – is a good way of telling the other person that you will give it some thought and to get back to them. You can then say: “After giving it some thought and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate your request at this time.”
“I encourage people to remember that NO is a complete sentence.”
~ Gavin de Becker[gap height=”30″]
[box style=”1″]We often forget that we are allowed to say NO. You do not need to explain yourself, you can just say no. Doing so will over time expand your ability to say yes and really mean it. At the beginning, your attempts at saying no might be far from graceful, but with practice they will improve and you will possess the knowledge that they are well intended.[/box]
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