In other words, tell people to talk to the hand.
Saying “yes” to every request that crosses your in-box isn’t only distracting, it creates more work and morphs you into a people pleaser. You’ll spread yourself too thin and find it harder and harder to ultimately push back.
According to a piece published on CareerBliss, there are a few effective ways to tactfully shut the door. First, it’s important to be straightforward and incorporate the word with a regret. Christine Durst, co-founder of RatRaceRebellion and Staffcentrix suggested to the site, “I’m sorry, but I’m just not able to fit that into my schedule.”
Secondly, stay strong and don’t fall into guilt trips! When colleagues lay it on thick they’re swamped or will be out of the office, keep in mind you have deadlines upon deadlines that are quickly approaching. Be prepared for a sob story or two. Sure, their reasons may be warranted and there are certainly times to say “yes” but when it gets repetitive and you’re getting frequent requests, there comes a time to put your foot down.
For another tip, as indicated in the piece, don’t say “maybe.” This word is wishy-washy and lives in the land of gray. Instead, use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your assertiveness with a “no.” No maybes, ‘k?
As for another strategy, in particular as it relates to pushing back to your boss, offer a solution. If your boss just assigned you an extra piece that’s due Tuesday and you’re already crunched with two other pieces, by all means you can say something like, “I can get this done but something else will have to slide. Is there any way another piece I’m working on can have an extension?”
This way, you look like you’re trying to accommodate the request while pointing out it’s not feasible to fit it into your already full workload.