Yes, of course we can.

Yes, we can. Sure, we will get it done. This is the beautiful, valuable, maddening mindset for most communications professionals. We are solutions-oriented and we all love a challenge, right? We embrace them daily and typically go forth with great confidence. What a thrill to match story ideas with journalists, to motivate our audiences to engage or to see the impact of a faculty member’s research. But just how good are we all at saying no? Could we be working smarter not harder, keeping the institution’s strategy in mind and all of the necessary boundaries in check? This is the underrated skill that communications officials should practice more often: getting to no gracefully.

Time and resources are not infinite, and discernment will be paramount. With so many more options for sending your news and messages out into the world, it may seem impossible to do more than tread water when the work requests keep coming your way.

A client recently introduced me to his institution’s president and other colleagues. Some of the highest praise he shared during this introduction included an ability to say no to (plenty of) ideas. We all laughed, with acknowledgment that working in the communications field is not for the faint of heart.

There will always be room to share your informed perspective and seek alternatives to said ideas and requests. The cases we all make for moving forward or not moving forward on a project must be solid. And, we recognize the added pressure when the person who is asking also holds the power card. But let’s not fear the reality check.

Remember, you know what you’re doing – despite the fact that others who are not in this profession may believe they too know how to do your job. A polite, clear and timely response will serve all parties best. Never lose the spirit of the Yes, we can, balanced with the judgment you’ve honed. When was the last time you made a strong case for not pursuing a project or you turned down a request – and it felt as natural as that default to yes?