Saying no to a co-worker

To refuse a request while expressing yourself clearly, with confidence, is more a matter of learning and experience than it is a natural ability. We often think we have said no... because we didn’t say yes! And that is where the trouble begins...
Take the time to step back and define your position
A reflex: to want to respond immediately and, therefore, without prior reflection.
More effective:
. Give yourself time, even of short duration, to process the request: How does it strike you? Does it surprise you? If so, how? What does it reveal? What information does it offer about the co-worker's perceptions and expectations?
. Make sure that you understand the request and that you have all the information you need in order to take a position.
A no pronounced too quickly may cast doubt upon its validity.
Express briefly your position
Fight against the tendency towards endless justification. You only need to formulate, in a few words, what you are saying no to and why.
There is generally a valid reason for refusal: this reason is to be expressed clearly and concisely.
It is not by elaborating and repeating yourself that you will get your co-worker to acquiesce.       
Accept your co-worker's displeasure
It's impossible to always make everyone happy!
Managing means sometimes displeasing or upsetting people because it involves reconciling individual and collective interests, arbitrating along the lines of fairness.
However, it is better to intervene if discontent sets in and weakens the relationship. In that case you can, with cool heads, discuss the refusal, the way in which it was perceived, etc.       
Each question has only one correct response, but be careful: among the possible responses there is one that is "almost correct" and might make the choice harder!
1 / 3   Needing help
Emma asks for your help, as she often does: “I need your help with this dossier; otherwise I’m never going to finish in time”. What do you say to her?
I really can’t. I’ve got too much work and I have other important things to do today. Go see Martin, he’ll know what to say.
You justify yourself by giving the impression that you’re under pressure.
You should have anticipated this and spoken to me earlier.
Sure, but this criticism won't get things moving. You could define a different way of functioning later.
It’s annoying that you’ve fallen so far behind, and I'm not replacing you. We’ll take time to define another mode of operation later. What, exactly, is missing right now?
Educational approach: you refuse, without justifying yourself, to do things in her place, and ask a question which will help her to find a solution.
OK, but this is the last time I’m going to help you at the last minute.
Emma won’t hear your message, and will ask you again.
2 / 3   A strange request!
Elodie asks not to work with Edouard anymore, because “We don't get on”. What do you say to her?
If everybody starts choosing who they want to work with, it will be impossible for me.
It’s true, but this does not provide a clear answer to the request.
Why don’t you get on?
Before that, so as not to suggest a favorable response, it would be better to announce that this isn’t possible. You can try to find out why later.
Not working with Edouard anymore would mean one of you moving to another team, and I don’t wish to do that. Is it your wish to leave the team?
This is a clear way of exposing your problem and to get Elodie to see her thought through.
But Edouard is a really pleasant colleague
That’s as may be, but that’s not the problem.
3 / 3   Well, if that’s the way it is...
You have just opposed Lucia’s refusal, and she’s threatening that “in that case I’ll only do the strict minimum.
What do you do?
You reply: OK, if that’s the way you’re going to take it...”
War has been declared! It would be best to calm things.
You conclude "I’m sorry that we have got to a point of conflict". And the next day you say to Lucia "it bothers me that the situation remains tense between us. I’d like to return to the conversation we had yesterday.”
It’s a good idea to resume the discussion when things are a little calmer. You can ask Lucia what is making her so angry, and listen to her grievances.
And what exactly does “the strict minimum” mean?
The climate is too tense for this question. First Lucia needs to calm down.
But Lucia, I’m sure you understand that you can’t say yes to everyone. If I refuse what you’re asking for, it’s because...
Your explanation will fall on deaf ears. Better to keep her calm, once things have soothed.
Your score is
You finished!
To review the questions and responses, please choose from the list below.