Suffering From The “Disease to Please”?
We’ve all been there, we couldn’t resist the urge to give a quick ‘yes’ to too many tasks all too often with the misconception in our mind that if we say ‘no’ to even just one task asked of us that our career-long reputation of reliability, dependability and being known as the ‘go-to-gal (or guy)’ will be trashed right there and we’ll be overwhelmed by an un-healthy sense of guilt that you are appearing lazy or rude.
Committing yourself to saying ‘no’ to more items will allow you to fully commit to fulfilling other items that truly matter will no doubt help you transition from working hard to working smart while increasing your overall enjoyment when approaching daily duties.
Not every task-oriented request comes from a manipulative or delegating perspective as bosses most often do not have a clear understanding of their reports’ workloads. Being able to convey your current priorities and how you are managing them in relation to new tasks is crucial and also displays to your boss how intentional and aware you are of your workload which gains you a whole lot of respect and trust in the workplace.
Navigating your own innate ability to say ‘no’ to projects or asking for assistance to re-prioritize when taking on another competing responsibility without fearing that you are not pleasing your reports and slacking off is a massive challenge but with a couple tips, tricks and go to responses, you can no doubt overcome the ‘disease to please’!
Here are some responses you will want to keep in your back pocket when asked to take on yet another project:
“I don’t think I will be your best resource for this project to reach your desired outcome”
Next time a guilt-tripping co-worker or manipulative report comes to quickly dump a task on you that is far outside of your reasonable scope of responsibility and skillset, let them know that you aren’t the person they should be coming to for that task and help them to identify who they should enlist for this project. Not only is this method effective for this particular instance they have asked you to do something, but they will likely back off and think twice before they reach out in the future to dump a project on you that you have no business being responsible for.
“Yes, What Should I Re-prioritize?”
If the item is something within your scope of knowledge and responsibility but you are overloaded with what you are currently working on and have little time to commit to yet another project, don’t be afraid to ask for help to strategize how to manage your competing and simultaneous priorities. A great way to convey your situation is by simply saying “Yes, I am currently focused on X, Y, and Z. What should I reprioritize for this?”. The response you receive will likely be a recognition of your timeline and that it would be best to have someone else complete this new task or they will simply assist you in rearranging your focus. This is not only an excellent opportunity to get straight on your priorities, but reports will truly appreciate your transparency and interest in ensuring you are working as effectively as possible, especially when you have been given competing responsibilities.
“Let’s break this one down and see what parts are a good fit for each of us to take on”
By asking the requestor to break down a task into smaller components you can each identify the few pieces that are within scope for you individually and then leave the requestor responsible for the big picture and overseeing each person’s contribution. This method will no doubt help the requestor understand the clear difference between asking for help and attempting to delegate work.
“Yes! Would you like to take a project off my plate in exchange?”
This approach has been used all the way up to the Executive levels. By switching tasks you’ve got an opportunity to remove something from your plate that you may dread or simply would be better achieved having someone else do it while speeding things up since you will be able to focus on areas where you really excel.