There was a time when I didn’t know how to say ‘No’. I’d say ‘Yes’ to almost anything, especially things that were work related. I was then very young, naïve and craved for attention, approval and recognition. I’ve always thought that once we’re in the workforce, we always have to stick to the cogan kata ‘Sedia Berkhidmat’.
Some time later I learned that many people loved having the ‘Yes’ girl around so that more work can be Tai Chi’d to her. Not only that, ambitious people who spent so much time thinking and dreaming just loved us the ‘Yes’ girls whom they knew would be able to walk the thought/talk. I ended up having too many things on my plate, underpaid, had to work long hours everyday and had no life.
Then I slowly learned how to say ‘No’ and at the same time learned a few tricks on Tai Chi’ing works (it’s also called delegating, lah…) It’s not an easy thing to do. First, I had to learn the dumb blond tactics, style and sentences. Adding new (bimbo) words into my dictionary took months. Fortunately I got to learn from one of the best (bimbos) in the company. Well, once upon a time she used to be a ‘Yes’ girl too, just like me. She learned many things the hard way, though.
Saying ‘No’ the professional way didn’t have the same effect as doing it the bimbo way. The getik expression and use of certain magic words (which actually sounds quite polite) worked wonders most of the times. Some of the proven tricks:
Brainless Requester: If you’re in the meeting can you take down the minutes?
Answer: Oh, cannot… I’ll join the meeting a bit late and I have to leave for another meeting before 4 o’clock. (Lying skill is required here…. Pura-pura busy won’t hurt a bit. Don’t forget to bat eyelashes and look like a damsel in distress.)
Brainless Requester: Your team is going to deliver this component too.
Answer: I don’t think that’s part of the scope (Make a grim face. Confident konon, padahal belum tengok pun detail scope of work. But it will ensure that the requester goes back to the original proposal to retrieve the details and study them for you. Well, that alone might have saved you 2 hours of unnecessary work.)
Brainless Requester: This is very urgent. We need to discuss this issue, can you arrange for the meeting? Invite so-and-so and then make sure it’s not early in the morning.
(Well obviously, this is not part of my job scope, but if it’s too obvious that the requester was bangang beyond words, try this:)
Answer: I’m in a middle of something really urgent and I always face problem with the meeting and room reservation system. I think it’s faster if you do it. (If the instruction is given over the phone, don’t forget to sound breathless as if you just completed a 2 miles run. Avoid being treated as a balachi. Once you do it, you’ll be a balachi forever.)
These days my first answer would always be ‘No’ regardless of the request. Sometimes, I purposely said ‘No’ just to piss people off, especially those who didn’t bother to follow the company processes and procedures (even though their request was legit).
I am now so good at saying ‘No’ that people don’t even dare to negotiate with me. For instance -this morning, one of our biggest GLC customers requested a document from me which I didn’t intend to submit as I thought it’s just not appropriate. (Oh, I am also a girl with principles.) I told him ‘No’ right away and it quieted him for a few hours. This afternoon I received a call from one of our top managers instructing me to submit the document or else our chances to win a few million ringgit there will be blown away. Shit! People blackmailed the ‘No’ girl!
Initially, I was rather furious because we have decided many months ago that the documents should never get into customer’s hands. The manager gave me a few minutes of lecture and I decided not to argue with him after he gave assurance that he shall be held accountable for it.
So, it’s not that easy to become a ‘No’ girl, either. Luckily they only blackmailed us; imagine if they decided to sabotage me and the whole company, how?
I tell you what, it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Ethics and morale can go to hell because ONLY money rules. Thank god I’m not in the politics arena.