Don’t Just Say “No”

No_admittance_signSaying “no” can be hard. Humans are a naturally co-operative species, and if someone asks for help, our initial instinct is to lend a hand, even if it means compromising our priorities. But let’s face it, part of the art of getting things done is focussing on your own goals. Of course, there are exceptions — some people are worth helping because of what they contribute, and sometimes collaboration can lead to interesting new discoveries.

But saying no is hard — you can be perceived as selfish, uncaring, “not a team player”. The secret is to let people off gently, and there are some tried and tested techniques for doing so. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, a New York Times bestseller translated into two dozen languages and named one of 2013’s best books by Amazon, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and “one of Malcolm Gladwell’s favorite social science writers”, gives 8 strategies for warding off those time-leeching annoyances, in the most diplomatic way possible.