Although there will be times when you’ll need to say no, the good news is, there are ways you can avoid some of the requests that you might need to say no to. Of course, there’s no way of anticipating all the requests that are going to come your way – but setting boundaries and ground rules in student organizations and study groups will help you avoid some of those unwanted requests.
1. Define roles and responsibilities clearly: make sure that everyone has a defined job and area of expertise – and that everyone is aware of the whole group’s roles. That way, when someone approaches you for a task that falls outside your expertise, you can easily point them in the right direction.
2. Practice open communication: regular check-ins, even via email, will allow all group members to identify potential problems with ongoing programs, conferences, panels, etc. – which should cut down on the last-minute panic that so often precedes the asking of favors.
3. Identify potential problems: that one group member who always waits until the last minute; the student group leader who tends to passive-aggressively bemoan his inability to rustle up volunteers; that one perfect conference room for your meeting that seems perpetually booked – make note of potential issues early and address them proactively. Check in with that one group member every day to ensure the work is getting done; head off that student group leader by telling him about your own student group responsibilities; identify all the dates you’ll need that one conference room and work with someone in administration (there is always a gatekeeper to conference rooms – find out who it is!) to get priority access.