Saying no can be done in a way that helps the other party.

  • “Yes, and”: Where consequences need to be discussed for reëvaluation.
  • Guidelines: Pre-decline bad options with clear limits on what options are.
  • “Help me say yes”: Curiously exploring all aspects of the request together.
  • Budget: Demonstrate current constraints and how the request interacts with them.
  • Good cop/bad cop: As a favor, involve someone else with authority to help decline.

No matter what, though, don’t waste time avoiding the discussion. Conflict should lead to better results, after all.rF2

  1. Camille Fournier, The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change, ed. Laurel Ruma, First Edition (Beijing: O’Reilly, 2017). (See notes.)