Level Three: This level can be the trickiest because the real potential of what is being asked might have some real merit. In this case, you need to make a judgment call on the likelihood of your success, on the potential return on investment, and on the fit with you and your organization’s goals. What do you say in those cases? “I need to know more. Let me ask you the following questions…” Essentially, you’re getting the person who is making the ask to provide you with a more thorough or convincing request. What if you do understand the ask and you don’t think it’s a worthwhile goal for you right now? You might say, “That’s not something I can say ‘yes’ to at this time because the likelihood of success is low,” “…the necessary resources are too great,” “…it’s not in alignment with the current priorities,” or “…the likely outcome is not desirable at this time for this specific reason.”

We are taught to mostly say ‘Yes’ in our lives based on cultural or societal norms. Learning to say ‘No’ well could provide you with more focus, time and resources to actually accomplish your company, career and life goals.

By Bernhard Schroeder