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No matter where you are in your career, making a strong first impression will always be one of the biggest priorities at the workplace. It is, in itself, your inauguration in establishing your professional brand the minute you walk through your company’s doors. But as important as it is to provide that strong foot forward, it is absolutely imperative that you learn the art of saying ‘no.’

Within the business and private sector, many companies run on that gung-ho ‘yes’ work mentality. While I completely understand the ability to try new things and challenge yourself on a daily basis, it is important to understand that when it comes to success, you need to set particular boundaries on what you can and cannot do. Call this picking your battles. By building strong boundaries, you will be able to learn, grow, and develop both personally and professionally each and every day. Now, the only way to do this is by actively saying ‘no’ to the people and activities that can hinder your overall success. By saying no to things that do not help you, you are, in effect, saying yes to the things that will.  Once you understand that, you will be able to filter the miscellaneous task and focus on the various objectives and responsibilities that will push you further within your career.

But how do you say no in a well-driven ‘yes’ society? Doesn’t saying ‘yes’ provide a better image at the workplace?

Like many others, saying ‘no’ can be an incredibly difficult thing. With the word ‘yes,’ you are opening yourself up to various opportunities for leadership, responsibility, and growth at your workplace. In addition, saying ‘yes’ provides a positive psychological mentality that can help you build your brand in a positive and effective manner. But as much as we want to say ‘yes’, we also have to live within the realm of reality. Not everyone has the time to manage a million things at once. Understanding these limitations can help you decided on whether or not handling that specific task is worth your time.

To help you with this process, it is absolutely imperative that you evaluate these opportunities in a strong and holistic manner. While it never hurts to assume responsibilities of a particular role or project, you want to make sure there is an overall return on investment at the end of the day. If you know that this new task will negatively impact your own personal work at the office, you may want to reconsider if the opportunity is right for you. This all comes down to knowing your limits. As much as we want to walk blindly and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity, you want to make sure that it does not compromise your current situation. Know its overall impact, both positively and negatively, will help you decide on whether or not this is the right task for you.  

In addition, it is imperative that you understand that quality will always be better than quantity. Simply completing a multitude of tasks in a mediocre manner does not put you in a better position than a completing a few tasks at a higher level. Think of it like this, what is better, a home run or a hit with two runs? While simple in it’s meaning, you want to make sure you are providing the best level of work for each individual task. Remember make your standards and your quality your top priority. Anything else should be second secondary.

Now, I know saying ‘no’ will be difficult. But the more times you practice it, the better. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you are capable of providing the level of work that is representative of you as a professional. By learning the power of ‘no,’ you will be able to take control of your work schedule and develop and grow for the better.