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When to Say Yes, When No

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It’s your career, it’s your plan, so when you start a new job and choose how to work it, with every step ask yourself how your next move aligns with your career path. On the new scene, the incumbent employees will try you out. They will ask for help, ask if you can lend a hand or pick up extra work. It might seem advisable to be agreeable and pick up this extra work, but to do so would be to set an unsustainable precedent: you will soon be exhausted and start having to say no, disappointing others and yourself.

So when to say yes, when to say no? When you first start a job or assignment, focus on your own work, and do stellar work. Focus fully on this and pick up as little extras as possible. Meanwhile, take a look at who has the power in the company, whose influence aligns with your career course. By choosing when to pick up extra work and how, you will be gaining useful experience and also impressing the right people.

Impressing just anybody is fruitless. Ultimately, it is best simply to be polite to those who do not relate to your career track. Certainly you can be friendly and help in emergencies, but don’t put yourself out for it. Let them do their own job. They might come to rely on you, thus lowering their own capacity and crippling you in the process.

So know when to say yes and how to say no. Don’t simply agree to whatever extra assignment comes, but negotiate, and talk about your interests, ideas, talents, and capabilities when you do so. This allows you to do some advertising and let others know what you are good at, what places you can do stellar work, where, ultimately, you might advance in the company.

If, however, somebody gets pushy and asks for your help, and you have no interest, don’t be rude about it, but carefully explain your current work load and mention who is the power broker, who you have to go to ask if you can take up the extra work. This will discourage others from imposing.

You don’t want to be the most useful person in the office. You want to move along your career path. That means being savvy in what work you pick up and how you do it. Having your ultimate goal, and the steps to get there in mind, you will be less likely to err by being too kind.

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When to Say Yes, When No by
Authored by: Harrison Barnes