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“No” is one of 101 acceptable two- letter words listed in the dictionary. While it is an easy one to pronounce, it may be the most difficult word for a Supervisor to say. Why? Because it conjures up denial, refusal, or disapproval.  However, this powerful word, when appropriately used, may be the most important one in the vocabulary of a Supervisor.


Knowing why to use “no” may be more important than knowing when to use it.  Supervisors who find it difficult to use the word with their employees often are perceived as being easily taken advantage of and lacking in confidence. As a result, when it comes time to say “no”,  they  may not be convincing and   subsequently convinced to change it to a “yes”.


Supervisors must be able to establish certain “non negotiable” expectations of their employees on key issues such as goals, work quality, priorities, and deadlines. When asked to exceed the boundaries of the expectations, it is time, without sounding dictatorial, to just say “no”. Saying it can be prefaced with consideration, rationale, or empathy.  But never utter “no” with regret.


Being an effective Supervisor means being fair but firm with employees at all times. Remember that it is far better to be viewed as a guilt- free decision maker than recognized a a remorseful one. 


This information is provided courtesy of


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