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Office Hours: Learning When to Say "No" Will Save Your Career

Cornerstone Editors

This post is part of our biweekly "Office Hours" video series, featuring quick career, workplace and leadership tips from talent management experts and business leaders across the globe.

Saying "no" to a request to do something can feel unnatural, especially at work, where you want to jump at every opportunity and be known as a team player. "As young children and teens, we have had 'no' drummed out of us," says social psychologist Susan Newman, Ph.D. "We're taught to do what our parents say and what authority figures tell us."

Kirsten Helvey, COO at Cornerstone, understands from years of work in global operations how biting off more than you can chew impacts both individual career growth and company efficiency.

In this video, Helvey explains there's a simple rule you can follow to make the most of your time: "Say 'no' when 'yes' means it will impact the quality of your current work."

In dispelling the myth that you have to say "yes" to everything, Helvey outlines an approach that prioritizes your current work and your professional goals. At first it may feel a bit awkward, but if you turn down opportunities with transparency, truthfulness and authenticity, your boss will understand, and everyone—you, your company and other stakeholders—will be better off.

Photo: Creative Commons

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