The Positive Refusal

Purpose: To help participants understand the effects of using positive language when declining a request from a colleague
Participants: 4 - 16
Time Required: 15 - 20 minutes
Materials Needed: Pieces of paper, pens.

Steps to Follow:
a) Tell the group to imagine that they are swamped at work, and a colleague comes and asks for help with a report that would take two hours to write. Unfortunately, they are working on something and cannot oblige their colleague’s request.
b) Ask them to write down what they would answer, by avoiding using “no” or other high-impact negative words.
c) Give them five minutes to work on their task. When the 5 minutes are up, ask each of them to read out their answers.

Questions for Debriefing:
• What did you have in mind when thinking the answer up?
• How do you think your answer will affect your relationship with your colleague?
• How do you go about refusing your colleagues at your job?

Tips on Making This Activity Go Well:
• You can tell the participants to think of the effects their answers might have, before they write it down. This will help them think the answer through and not write down an automated refusal.