How to say yes, no, and maybe at work

To avoid burnout in today’s workplace, you have to be savvy about which projects you accept and which you decline. But how do you say yes, no, or maybe at work? Here are some basic guidelines for how to respond to new opportunities for collaboration.

Say no at the right time, for the right reasons

Saying no doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a potential collaboration. It’s always better not to waste someone’s valuable time if you are tempted to say yes, when you should really be saying no. So, make it clear.
No . . .
. . . I cannot do it, I am not allowed to do it, or I shouldn’t do it at this moment in time.
Remember, sometimes saying “not yet” is better than “no”:
Not yet, but I can do this in two days . . . or two weeks . . . or two months.

If you say maybe, keep it specific

Sometimes the answer is maybe, and . . .

. . . May I ask you some questions to better understand exactly what you need?

Remember that saying yes is a commitment

When saying yes at the beginning of a collaboration, make it clear you are serious about the commitment you’re making.
Yes . . .
. . . How can I help you help me help you? What information can I provide about how I do what I do?

Want to read more? Check out Bruce Tulgan’s book — The Art of Being Indispensable at Work


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