As the go-to person for Finance, Payroll and Benefits questions, you naturally want to be helpful when people ask for something.
Often the answer must be “No.”
But you know from experience that being diplomatic when you say “No” always works better.
Here are three ways you can do just that:
1) Let the person know that you hear him
First acknowledge the request: “I realize that this is important” or “Ordinarily, I’d be able to help you with that right now.”
Customer service pros will tell you that the biggest key to defusing an angry/frustrated customer is letting the customer rant about the problem and saying, “I can see how frustrating that would make anyone.”
Same basic principle goes for listening to a problem that you can’t deal with right away.
2) Explain your situation
Nothing wrong with explaining why your answer must be “No.”
Just keep it brief (you shouldn’t apologize for being busy): “I’m working on a project right now” or “I can’t take time away from X, Y and Z.”
3) Turn the ‘No’ around
Make it positive by giving the person an alternative.
For example: “This resource may help you,” or “Have you asked this person about it?”
Some folks would rather run to known problem-solvers – like yourself! – than spend time figuring out how to fix problems themselves.
Ideas worth sharing with your staffers
You’ve probably dealt with managers bypassing you and going directly to one of your staffers for help. This can intimidate some employees, and make them feel like they have no choice but comply.
Remind your staffers: Don’t just drop an important task because someone’s got a problem (unless of course it’s an emergency).
They’re allowed to say “No.” Just refer them to points 1, 2 and 3 above.