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Jun 3, 2013 by Patrick Icasas in Project Management 101 & Tools

The best way to protect against a bad client reaction is to get the client to trust you

How to say no and not get fired

How to say no and not get fired
Note: This is a different take on a popular topic we published about 2 weeks ago, from another author. Hope you enjoy this one as well!

Depending on the person you’re talking to, saying “no” to a manager or client can lead to a very nasty situation. They’re sometimes hell-bent on bad ideas because they’re either misinformed or working off wrong assumptions. If you don’t handle the situation properly, it might do more than just sour the working relationship—it may even cost you a performance review or even the project.

But does that mean you should turn into a “yes” man, just to keep the higher ups happy and your job secure? Absolutely not! If anything, letting them have their way all the time will result in a failed project and be even worse for your career.

Instead, try these useful tips for telling people “no”:

Build up Stock

The best way to protect against a bad client reaction is to get the client to trust you. When the client knows that you have their best interests at heart, they’re less likely to have a knee-jerk reaction when you tell them you have to axe one of their pet project’s features.

Support your Arguments

You wouldn’t tell your boss “no” without having a good reason, would you? You just need to communicate it properly and make sure they understand your point of view. If you’re going to say “it would never work,” tell them why. Explain it logically and get them on your side, so that they can in turn argue on your behalf.

Be Diplomatic

Screaming or throwing a tantrum doesn’t help your argument at all (even though it would feel really, really good). The best way to get your point across is to be calm and diplomatic at all times—even when someone is trying to steal your resources.

Offer Alternatives

This is the most helpful way of denying a manager’s request, and probably the one that will get you the best response. It shows that your focus is on getting things done in the most effective way possible, and that you’re not just saying “no” because you’re hard-headed or selfish (even if you are).

The beauty of the tips I’ve just listed is that you can use them on anyone, not just managers or clients. Pushy co-workers? Meddling rivals? Use the power of logic and diplomacy and protect yourself—and your team—from outside interference.

Image credit: Nathan Gibbs, Flickr

Dealing with Changing Requirements

patrick-icasas
Patrick Icasas

Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.

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