Everyone has their tipping point. In theory, this point isn’t reached very often. In the practice of PR, this point could very well be reached almost every day.
You know this isn’t a healthy way to live. Working until 11pm most nights of the week, catering to a picky client, taking crap from a slightly senior member of the team, or doing so well that your supervisor would prefer to give you the big projects because she feels she can “trust you.” No matter what gets you to your “last straw” moment, whether it’s positive or not, is frustrating to the point of tears.
Learning how to say no is a talent acquired over time. And it needs to be done in a diplomatic, sympathetic and compromising way. Here are some of our tips for pushing back when you’ve just reached the point of “enough”:
Be Vocal (and Be Honest!) – No one is ever going to know if you have too much on your plate if you never say anything. When I first started, I knew I had twelve hours worth of work on my plate for the day, but I never told my supervisors what specific items were taking up my to-do’s, so they continued to give me projects with quick deadlines. By the eighth week of working 65 hours plus, I was burnt out to say the least. Be 100% honest about what you have on your plate, don’t hide small tasks or admin items, because those are the things that usually keep you in the office until all hours.
Be a Little Selfish – Your time is worth something, always remember that. Your company is charging much more than you actually make for your time, so you should think about your worth to your client. If I superior is asking you to complete tedious tasks that she was assigned, push back. There is always a time when you’ll need to pitch in to stuff gift bags, make name tags or finish a briefing book, but if the assignment could easily be handled by your superior, ask if she is able to complete it on her own so you can focus on doing your best work.
Be Realistic – You understand that the work just has to get done, but it doesn’t have to get done by you, and most likely it doesn’t have to get done right this second. If your manager asks you to work on a project you simply won’t have time for until later in the week, suggest another member of the team can start the assignment and you can come in later in the week when you have more time. If it’s an urgent assignment, be realistic with your current to-do list and look at some items you can give back to your teams. Unless you’ve been putting off admin work you are responsible for, they should be more than willing to take some items of your plate – you have probably done the same for them!
How have you learned how to say no?