Being requested to accomplish tasks or projects in our professional and personal lives is expected. When someone “asks,” the request seems reasonable to the person who is asking. The “asker” might also express appreciation and this is why it’s sometimes hard to say no even when the request seems “too much.” The person asking may not have a clue about your busy schedule and prior commitments even within the organization.
When a request feels unreasonable it may be that too much outside preparation is called for. Perhaps it feels presumptuous, or you might think it is not your place to perform the task at all. However, you can still respond in an etiquette-ful manner, no matter what your answer is.
Civility, as the cumulative word for the vision for a civil society, calls us to be kind, and as direct as possible as honest persons. These are our marching orders. And it’s always good to be etiquette-ful in the workplace.
When considering your answer to a request, ask yourself the following questions to help drill down whether the request is reasonable for you and how challenging it may be. Your answers to these questions will help you discover how you feel about what is being asked of you and, therefore, the best answer for you.
Whatever the form of “No” takes, being tactful and professional should have this look:
Addressing requests that feels unreasonable requires diplomacy and good will, which always embraces etiquette-fulness. Listening actively and empathetically to others’ perspectives and concerns is a very reasonable request for yourself!