How to Never Say “No”

I never say “No”. 

I just say, “Yes. And this is what it will cost you to do it right:” 

- Projects X, Y, Z will all be pushed back 2 weeks. 

- Prerequisite Project will have to come first. 

- weeks overtime for people = $z. 

- Joe and Mary will have to be pulled away for 3 weeks. 

- Interim solution will only take 1 week, but won't work. 

- We will need your top supervisor full-time next week. 

or, best of all: 

- We don't know. We need a project to find out. 

Note that “doing it wrong” or “doing it quick & dirty” are not options. 

People understand “this is what it will take” a lot better than “no”. They also understand the trade-offs and sacrifices needed. Then they will work with you to make the best decision for everybody.