Staying curious before committing helps ensure that you are working on the most impactful problems. It ensures that you are not spread too thin as you juggle between too many projects. For me personally, saying no is hard. I get excited about a promising vision and don’t want to hurt other peoples feelings.

Clarifying questions

Give yourself cover by asking more questions before committing to new work.

  • What is driving the urgency?
  • To what degree of polish does this need to be completed? By when?
  • If I couldn’t do all of this, but could do just a part, what part would you have me do? Who else is a good fit to ask for help?
  • What do you want me to take off my plate so I can do this?
  • What would be a successful outcome?

Saying no

And when you have to say no, find a way to convey that you are saying no to the task, not the person. For example, highlighting that you won’t be able to pick up this task at the moment, but you appreciate them thinking of you and looking forward to collaborating more.

Adapted from the Coaching Habit.