Boss Lady

How and when to say no at work


There’s only so far you can get in business by being the employee who always says ‘yes’.

Naturally, a new recruit wants to make a good impression, to stay on top of their workload, and to be considered a team player and a hard worker by their colleagues and boss. Yet eventually a lack of judgment in the tasks you take on will take a toll on what you are able to achieve.

Take a look at the women at the top: they’ve won respect by doing the best at what they do, and pursuing their career with ambition and prudence.

This is all well and good once you get there: but how is an up-and-coming employee to know when it’s okay to say ‘no’ at work – and how should they go about it?

Are you the best person to help?

The important thing to remember is it’s not all about you. If you’re asked to take on a task that will impair your ability to complete your current workload at the quality to which you aspire, or for which you simply don’t have the time, the end-receiver is going to be disappointed. If there’s someone else in the office who is better qualified to complete the job you’ve been asked to do, the company for which you work will likely come out of the situation better if you’re able to delegate.

This way of identifying work that needs to be declined sets you up perfectly to go about the tricky business of stating your case. Even if you’re stressed, remember to take a deep breath and operate reasonably: stress itself is a valid reason to turn down work, and if you can express this to your boss calmly she will find it difficult to argue.

Do it in person, not via email

When the time comes to decline, arrange to meet the other person (email can be too ambiguous and impersonal) to explain the situation. Let her know if your schedule is already overloaded: she will appreciate your honesty. If the person in question is your boss, perhaps it will be appropriate for you to work together on fixing your priorities, for example by going through your schedule together or looking into training opportunities. Or perhaps she will sense that the issue needs fixing from her end, by making some adjustments with human resources – taking on more staff, or altering the rota.

Show your good intentions by offering solutions. In the case mentioned above, point out that there is someone who can do the work much better than you – which will also free you up to take on work that speaks to your specific strengths. For more advice on how to say ‘no’ at work, have a look at the infographic below, ideal to save to your desktop (or perhaps somewhere more discreet) for next time you feel you’ve been asked too much. Run your eyes over it before responding to an unreasonable request, and you should be able to keep your workload manageable without offending the boss.

Courtesy of: The Business Backer

About Marilyn Vinchy

Marilyn Vinchy is a freelance writer and HR specialist. She works for several marketing and public relations agencies, supporting their content teams. She writes about leadership, careers and personal development, and has a knack for productivity and time management techniques. You’ll find her on Twitter here, and you can also visit her blog.

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