Source: Time Management for Working Mums: 5 Ways To Say No At Work by Amanda Alexander
The dual roles of a working mum are a stressful combination in their own rights without added pressure being applied causing missed school pick-ups or weekend working. Saying no at work is always tricky, but by following these steps you can avoid the many pitfalls associated with it.
1. Always offer an alternative. In work environments it can be incredibly frustrating to deal with people who will always tell you why something won’t work, or why they are unable to take on the latest project. If you have to decline extra work, or cannot make a specified deadline, offer alternatives rather than appearing like a brick wall. This way you will come across as an ally rather than someone to do battle with. In this guise you are far more likely to make your needs heard.
2. Be firm. The slightest whiff of hesitancy will be identified and jumped upon. Be confidently apologetic rather than ashamedly and do not end sentences with the ‘half-hearted trail off’. This sign off can be heard in offices across the nation – “sorry, I can’t make this deadline, but if it’s really critical…..” “Sorry, I can’t take on more work, but if you can’t find anyone……” Don’t be afraid of finishing your sentences otherwise the sentiment in the first half is negated by your lack of commitment in the second.
3. Be careful of blaming the children. Let’s face it, as a working mum, they will be at the root of a lot of the reasons why you have to say no, but you won’t make friends or win favours amongst your colleagues if you use them constantly as your ‘get out of jail free’ trump card. Mentally score how often you cite them and aim to cut that figure in half; pay attention to how your colleagues deal with the same situation, especially if they have yet to embark on family life.
4. Get proactive about planning. If you can get involved earlier, when project decisions are made, you will be able to have more sway over timings, deadlines and work load allocations. This is not an opportunity to shy away from work heading in your direction, rather a chance to offer realistic timescales to projects that you might inherit. There will also be a large element of any role in any company that is entirely reactive to market conditions, or the whims of those at the top, but try and help your manager’s control what they can and you will be rewarded royally.
5. Set the ground rules from the outset. This is the key tip. It’s almost akin to drawing up a contract or alliance with your boss before your role commences, that you can refer back to if any of the terms agreed are not adhered to. It obviously doesn’t need to be as formal as a contract but it does need to be an explicit conversation. Areas such as the time you must leave the office in order to get to the school on time should be covered as well as your ability and scope to work out of office hours.
By using these suggestions, you are sure to have an easier time saying ‘No’ at work.
Practical help is at hand for working mums who yearn for MORE time, balance and ease with LESS guilt, stress and exhaustion. Amanda Alexander PCC has written a FREE eBook for working mums in need of inspiration: “From Chaos to Calm: 5 Simple Steps to Balance for Working Mums” will help you with the juggling act! Get it now! at Coaching Mums