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The positive side of the negative

Sorry may seem to be the hardest word, but for most of us, employing the 'N word' causes the most anxiety - especially in the workplace, whether it's to an employer or employee.

The inability to say no is ranked by experts as one of the 10 major causes of stress, says Cristina Stuart, managing director of SpeakFirst Training, yet having the confidence to decline a request is important for your health as well as your selfesteem.

'From a business point of view, a lot of people always saying yes will lead to a lot of people having nervous breakdowns, ' Stuart adds.

'We often feel that by saying no we will be seen as uncooperative, unhelpful, selfish and uncaring, ' she says. Worse still, you may feel it will be interpreted as impertinent and insubordinate - or even get you sacked on the spot.

'At times it is essential to say no, ' Stuart argues, 'in order to prioritise, have enough time to complete tasks well, or just to stop overloading yourself.

'It's about setting boundaries, managing your time, and establishing self esteem, ' she says, 'and once you have mastered the ability to say no, you might only need to use it once a year.'

If this strikes a chord, but you are scared of scuppering your chances of promotion, try following Cristina Stuart's advice below. And remember that throughout the exchange your body language should support your words. 'Use direct eye contact, vocal energy and open posture to state your views assertively, ' she warns.

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