You’re still the boss of you

July 29, 2007
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 5:00 pm

Q:  People keep dumping extra tasks on to my plate, even though they’re not my responsibility — and if I don’t do the work, it won’t get done. I can’t say no, yet I’m sick of all the overtime I do to keep up with the additional demands. Help!

A:  You are a highly responsible individual, but unfortunately your continual “over-functioning” has trained others to believe they can get away with doing less by convincing you to take on their work.

The first step toward change is to understand the payoff motivating you to accept this treatment. Do you feel more valued when others ask you for help? What stops you from saying no? Are you worried about looking bad? Do you fear repercussions?

Requests may feel like demands, but you do have a choice. Take a minute to ask yourself, “What’s in it for me? Am I truly willing — not just able — to accept the task?” If the answer is no, say so up front instead of resenting the commitment or complaining later.

You are committed to a job well done, but how did this become your responsibility? What about the other workers’ roles? Ask what part they’re taking on before you agree to anything.

The next step is to practise saying no to low-risk or easy things. Be prepared for some resistance from those accustomed to taking you for granted, but stick to your guns.

Find other ways to say no. For example, “I’d like to, but that doesn’t work for me,” or, “I won’t be able to consider that until [some future date convenient for you].”  You may work for an organization, but you are still the boss of you.

Originally printed in The Province, July 29, 2007.


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