Never Say I Can't, And Don't Say No

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This post has stuff about religion and a previous relationship. My perspective has changed

Have you ever been in a situation when your boss asked to do something that you just couldn’t do? For example: staying at work late when it happens to be your wife’s birthday, or being less than truthful with the outcome of some tests, or doing a sloppy job to save some time. Well I have, and I’ve learned a very important lesson about it… Never say “I can’t”, and don’t say “no.”

Now before you get all in a huff, I’m not suggesting that you abandon morality to please your boss and I’m not encouraging you to blow off your family for work. And I’m not endorsing the “yes man.” What I am saying, is that there’s a better way to say it.

The words “I can’t” and “no” are definitive. There is no discussion, no alternatives, no if’s and’s or but’s. There isn’t any explanation. It’s just a cold hard fact, and a cold hard fact is a very hard pill to swallow.

Another reason you want to avoid this language is that it makes you look like you’re not a team player. It’s like you don’t even care about the welfare of your company.

EXHIBIT A:
<blockquote>BOSS : Hey Jack, I need you to get that report finished and emailed to me tonight. If we don’t we’re going to lose this prospective client.

EMPLOYEE : I can’t do it; I’ve got something important I have to do.

BOSS : Um, you’re fired. And I hate your pants.</blockquote>
Holy cow. What can the boss say? What is his recourse? Lose the client? Do it himself? The conversation goes in an unfavorable direction and the boss strong-arms the employee into doing what he wants. Yikes. Nobody wants that.

EXHIBIT B:
<blockquote>BOSS : Hey Jack, I need you to get that report finished and emailed to me tonight. If we don’t we’re going to lose this prospective client.

EMPLOYEE : Oh man, it’s my anniversary tonight and I’ve got dinner reservations. Would it be possible for me to get them to you tomorrow morning?

BOSS : Wow, you don’t want to be late for that. I’ll see if Jamie can do it. Did you get flowers?</blockquote>
This scenario is much better. It probably won’t turn out exactly like this, but the boss will certainly be more receptive. Why? The employee explained himself and offered an alternative solution. It appears that he cares. And it appears as if he is willing to help, even though he may not be. It’s tactful and friendly.

So here are a couple of tips to remember whenever you’re faced with this dilemma:
1. Never say “I can’t”, and don’t say “no.”

  1. Explain why you are unable to do what you’re being asked to do, be mindful of No. 1

  2. Offer an alternative

Your boss might not sing your praises and shower you will offerings of gratitude, but at least you’ll get to keep your job. Now get back to work, slave.