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Stress Relief- the wonders of Saying ‘no’ (and maintaining Professional Integrity)

This blog will help you if you at times find it hard to say ‘no’ to people when you really need to say ‘no’. After reading this blog, you’ll be freer to work smarter; as you’ll know the real value of saying ‘no’ and the impact it can make to your daily working practices.

In todays’ busy, (often) open plan, working environments, we can become inundated with many jobs, tasks and requests upon our time. It can be hard to balance the workload. Have you ever had an appointment, meeting or session with someone who seemed too busy to give you adequate attention? It’s as though they really need to get on and do more important jobs? And worse still, were you paying for this service?

I have been in a situation like this myself: I felt like by making enquiries – to someone I had hired to do a specific job – I was disturbing them or being an inconvenience and I told them this, and they noticeably ‘shaped up’. They were good at their role but were under pressure; presently they had undertaken too may resposibilities; they had said ‘yes’ to too many tasks because they didn’t want to ‘let anyone down’ (except themselves, and evidently- me).

Saying ‘no’ and knowing when to do it is about maintaining our Professional Integrity.  As in my example above, if we are overloaded by things going on at work or/ and at home we may we behave in an unintended way and so compromise the quality of service our customers receive from us. Not only this, but it can create feelings of anxiety when we find we cannot fulfil the promises we had made.

Professional Integrity- being honest to ourselves, colleagues and customers is an essential component of our skill set as professionals. It is a way of dealing with anxiety and stress at work. And furthermore,  it really effects how people view the quality of service they receive from us and crucially; if they will give us more work.

Honesty and respect

In other words, being too busy, or unable to manage this, can cost us – and not just money. (see blog ‘Who is Rowing Your Boat’ about the perils of overloading oneself at work.)

So why do I use the word integrity rather than awareness? Well we may be aware that we are overloading ourselves and compromising quality, but it’s our sense of integrity that empowers us to put safeguards in place to ensure we maintain the standards of our practice at work – so we don’t let others nor ourselves down.

Sense of Integrity

For example, a while back I needed some graphic work done and I approached a creative ex-colleague of mine. Imagine my disappointment when she said sweetly but admirably: ‘Awele, I’m so busy right now with other projects, the earliest I’ll be able to do any work for you will be in about 5 months time. I don’t want to hold you up so if you want to try someone else I’ll completely understand’. This told me many things about her sense of integrity:

  1. What is most important to her is that she doesn’t stand in the way of my business.
  2. When she starts a work project she is committed to it. So she would be similarly committed to mine.
  3. She knows her limitations and does not jeopardise the quality of the service her customers get from her.
  4. She told me when she would be available, thereby giving me a choice: wait for her services or seek another.


Apart from this, it demonstrates how busy and highly sought after she is.

Now isn’t this the sort of person we’d all want working with us in our ‘Champion Team’ (See this related blog: Who are your cheerleaders?)? Someone who is diligent in their work and can clearly communicate their honest position?

I have been in situations where people I have hired have not returned my phone calls or responded to emails, regarding important queries I have needed to get my work done. This brings up many feelings and top of the list is frustration! Why agree to do a job (and take money for it) if you won’t do it in a timely way? It’s unprofessional! What message does this give about their sense of Professional Integrity?

And this is a useful question we can all ask ourselves;

What does my behaviour at work say about my Professional Integrity?

I’ll be writing more on this series so let me know what you’d like to read more on. 

photo credit: <a href=”″>Shame…</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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