How To Say “No” Without Crushing Morale

Cartoon holding NO signHow do you think you would feel if you had offered countless suggestions to another person, only to have all of them rejected?

You would likely start to realise that your opinions are not valued or wanted, and would eventually stop offering them.

This scenario is what happens in offices around the world, where an employer’s rejection lowers staff’s morale, causing them to keep their ideas all to themselves.

While it is true that managers should have the final say about what goes on in their departments, employees often have valuable and innovative suggestions.

However, if they feel like their ideas will never be taken seriously, they will stop offering them.

Although it is not possible to welcome all ideas, there is a way to say no without crushing your staff’s spirit. In this article, we will provide tips on saying no without lowering morale in the office.

Provide An Explanation

Supervisors are busy people, between dealing with clients, other colleagues and staff, they are pretty talked out.

This is why it is easy, when a staff member sticks his head into the office to offer you a brand new way to formulate reports that he just thought of, to blurt out no and turn your attention to more pressing matters.

However, although you may have to say no, you should always take the time to explain your decision.

Employees hate being kept in the dark, and like to understand the runnings of their own company.

By providing a concise explanation for why your team member’s idea can’t come to fruition, you won’t just make them feel like you’re blowing them off, but will empower them to understand your decision and why you had to say no.

Ask For An Alternative

This solution is ingenious in motivating your employees to think creatively.

If they propose a solution that just will not do, instead of saying so, challenge them to rework their thoughts to come up with an even better idea.

For example, if you’re brainstorming about how to lure an important client in for a meeting, and your employee suggests sending them an invitation in the mail, instead of just saying no, explain that an invitation may never be opened.

Most managers would drop the conversation there, but you should ask for other solutions, which won’t make the employee feel like you don’t value their opinion, and will keep them on their toes to come up with something better.

Consider Saying Yes

The truth is that if you always say no to your staff, no amount of explanations or alternative solutions will help.

You must empower your staff enough by considering saying yes to some of their ideas.

After all, you likely hired these qualified individuals, so why not trust them enough to go with their ideas, at least once in a while?

When staff are constantly shut down with nos, they become used to not being heard.

Change that attitude with the three strategies in this article.

Thanks again

Mark Williams

Head of Training and Development

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 4 April, 2016

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