Asserting My Expertise

This week a few people asked for my advice and expertise regarding some projects. In one case, I told the individual that what they needed for their project was an in-person or screen-sharing consultation because it would involve visual, hands-on work. The individual got back to me with a quick response that they had a really busy schedule and that they’d be available by phone.

In this case, I wasn’t establishing boundaries for my own work-life balance or learning how to say ‘no’ to people asking for too much of my time. Instead, I offered more of my time and effort in the name of doing the project correctly: I was asserting that for this specific stage, the meeting had to be both auditory and visual with live editing (it is a visual project and in this case no one has impaired hearing or vision). This means we had to be in person or use online software to communicate effectively.

I have decided to call this principle “asserting my expertise” because in this case, someone with little understanding of the appropriate process for a specific type of project was trying to set the terms of the process. I needed to step in and assert my expertise. And, I did. I replied to the individual that I could not be involved in the project if the meeting were not on the terms necessary to complete the project successfully.

Ways to Say No

My mentor sent me an article called “22 Ways to Say No” in which the author lists ways to say no to adding a task that would not be in line with your priorities.

  • Encouragement. Saying “I feel you can do this on your own.” You encourage the person to do something they think they need you to do by showing confidence in their ability to find the answer or finish the project.
  • Principles. If the task is not in line with your values, you can say so as a matter of principle. “According to my experience, doing that will not be worth the investment of time.” Or, “I don’t do that sort of thing as a matter of principle” (if it is a moral issue).
  • Priorities. You can let people know, “I can’t take on new commitments right now, otherwise my existing priorities will suffer.” It shows you want to perform well at what you do, and that person cannot ask you to sacrifice your job or project for theirs.
  • Meet half way. As a rejection, offer a “cheap alternative,” such as “Frank, I’m terribly sorry I can’t assist you during that meeting. However, I could review your presentation slides in advance.”

If you want to know more ways to say no, read the rest of Evomend’s article here.