The recipe I find works the best is:
1 – Don’t start with the word “no”.
Because then folks immediately stop listening to anything else you have to say.
2 – Ask questions before you answer the request.
Even if you know you’ll say “no,” maybe there is more information you need.
Asking questions also helps you determine if they are asking because you are the secret sauce to success or because they need a warm body.
· Why do you need my help vs. ___’s?
· How does this help advance the agenda my team has?
3 – Make the questions open (How? Why? Explain?)
Once someone says “yes” or “no,” then the ball is back in your court. Keep them talking. Have them work out why they need you… or that it’s more hassle to explain it to you than ask someone else.
4 – Close by offering to help in some way.
· I can ask a few folks for you but you’ll also have to keep asking. I’ll let you know immediately if someone volunteers.
· I could read the document as an extra set of eyes when it’s done if that would help?
5 – Follow up with a short note that restates your close (#4).
Sharing a few articles I like on this topic.