How do you tell a colleague no?

How many times do colleagues ask you to borrow something….every day, every other day, once a week?  It is not usually the question or even the act of lending something that poses a problem.  The problem arises when they want to “borrow” consumable supplies.  Construction paper, pencils, markers, paint are all consumables.  The web defines consumable as “all tangible personal property consumed (used up, drained, absorbed, dissipated, or expended) during the normal day-to-day operation of-

Others tend to view our supply closet as the never ending abyss of art materials just waiting to be devoured.  When we realize that the contents are golden.  Working endless hours to find the best bargains we squeeze every dollar to purchase every scrap of paper, worn out marker, and chewed down pencil stub.    In the era of shrinking budgets and price increases we need to be cognizant of what is expendable in our supply closet and hold onto it with a firm hand.

So, how do you tell a colleague no when they ask to borrow supplies?   A friend of mine gave me this suggestion:

At the beginning of each school year sit down and compose a short memo to the staff sharing the time and effort that you take to make sure you have ample supplies for the school year.  Also mention that your supplies have been affected by the recent budget crisis and times are tough.  Be certain to maintain that you will not be sharing any consumable supplies this year but other non-consumables are available when they may need to borrow (old scissors, rulers, and paint brushes).   End by thanking everyone for understanding your predicament and wish them a good year.

You will be surprised by how effective this technique can be.  Do not concern yourself with those that take the news poorly.  In a few days they will begin to understand.  If by chance someone does continue to ask to borrow supplies, remind them of the memo earlier in the year.   Finally, don’t feel guilty for not sharing.

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