Saying “No” is hard

You are busy. So am I, so is your colleague, and everyone else. Busy is almost a virtue. Too much to do, too much on your plate, deadlines rushing in, write an offer here, respond to that, report the latest by morning – all that surely means you are creating value and your contribution is in great demand.

All that is true. You are a busy centerpiece of your community, and only if you had more time, more hours in a day you could achieve so much nore.

When you are busy, and other people ask for help, what do you say?

“Sorry, I’m busy”. Of course, there is a lot to be done. What do you think the requestor hears? Educated guess: “My request isn ‘t important.”

Busy is a matter of not only limited time and long backlogs, but also and especially about priorities and time and task management. Whenever you ask for help and get back “busy” as an answer, wouldn’t it be great to hear about priorities?

It could be something as simple as queue number, overall cognitive load of your colleague, indication of e.g major project deadline etc.

People like to help, and to say yes, and really want to avoid saying “no”to others. That is how it is very easy to become “busy” in the first place.

Consider a different scenario.

Your colleague speaks her mind to Ainolabs Mentor, explains all her tasks, including the ones you don’t and should not know about.

You try to reach her, and are redirected also to Ainolabs Mentor (she is *busy*, remember).

You ask for her help, the Mentor logs your request, and informs you that she is very busy, this may take a while and would you like to discuss your request ‘s priority with her manager.

That way she does not need to say “No” or explain everything you, you both can discuss the topic first in a socially neutral context (Ainolabs Mentor is a machine, not a person) and you can ask for help to resolve the priority issue.

Priorities, time and task management are true causes of busy, and if you hear busy in your work environment, please remember these factors.

Often simple re-orientation and bit of interpersonal honesty is enough.

That can be hard and mentally draining – you’ll be saying “No “, a negative while you could choose to say “busy”, a positive spin to “sorry, I can’t help you”.

You could also try Professional Mentor. You can be honest and curt with the machine, and Ainolabs Mentor can share the relevant information with your colleagues – on a need to know basis.

Sign up today at

Published by Aarne

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