At a workplace, it can be difficult to say “no” when you want to prove yourself to your employers and colleagues. You will take on anything just to be recognized and accepted. However, saying yes too often can cause you to burn out and people may think you are an overachiever. Your coworkers or employers may even take advantage of your inability to say no.

Or worse… management may not think you are not a leadership material because you do not know when and how to no. There goes your promotion!

Turning down a task, a request or even what seem to be an opportunity may seem to be a bad thing however, if you do it right and gracefully, you may even impress the very person you say no to.

Here are some tricks.

Know why you find it difficult to say no

The first thing you have to consider when trying to learn how to say no at work is knowing why you can’t do it. Sometimes, it could be because you and your coworker or boss didn’t explain in detail about the task and so on or it was thrusted to you haphazardly. It could also be because your work environment is always too busy and catching deadlines.

Or is it because you have self-esteem issue that makes you want to please the whole world? You need to work out your personal issues with a professional and make sure that you are not a doormat for everyone to walk over.

Maybe it is financial pressure on your shoulders that you don’t want to offend your boss and you don’t want to lose your job? However, saying yes and being a yes man all the time will make you lose a promotion and even your future in the company too.

Understand the underlying reasons that you can’t say no at work, will help you to move forward in time to identify and differentiate when to accept and when to reject.

Sort out your thoughts

If you want to decline a request at work, you need to sort out your thoughts and understand what you think about things. Many people often find it difficult to explain their side to people because they themselves couldn’t understand what they want or support.

Before you accept or turn down a request, tell the other party that you need time to consider the request. For an easy way out, I often use this “I’ll need to check on my schedule and get back to you on this.”

It is useful for me to take a few moments to weigh in on whether I want to accept the new task or if the new task will benefit me at all. And also, it gives me the space to sort out my reasons to reject the request gracefully.

Know the way you work

Whether your workplace is quiet or chaotic, you should know your work habits.

Can you pass projects before their deadlines? Do you have any rivals at work? Are you spending most of your time at work rather than rest at home after a busy day?

If you know your work habit, you will be able to set some boundaries on how much you can do. You will also be able to say no to things you know you can’t work on at the moment.

For myself, I understand I can pile projects after projects without stopping to take a breath. Which is not healthy. One of the reasons why I left the corporate world to concentrate on recuperating and recovering all those years I have given out and not taking in.

Talk clearly

When you are trying to say no to your boss or colleagues, you must speak clearly and explain precisely why you are declining. If you explain in circles or try to justify yourself, people will just take your request lightly.

Before you say no, think about why you want to decline a task or activity. List down your reasons and speak about them to your boss. Do this in a clear, slow and professional manner so people won’t react negatively with your request.

Think about yourself too

You should also think about yourself when you are working.

If you spend every waking minute in work five days a week, you should give yourself time to relax during your off or during the weekends. You also have preferences when it comes to the work you want to do and goals you want to achieve.

While work will require you to sacrifice a few things, there should be a balance when it comes to work and your needs. Otherwise, you will soon be facing a burn out.

In Other Words

Saying no is important in work because this will allow the people around you to respect your work rights. You can also burn out from working too much and it can affect your performance.

As you learn when to say no, it can help you achieve perfect work-life balance and a better relationship with your boss and workmates.

Have you turned someone down before? In personal or work life? How did you do it without offending the other party? Share with us in the comments below so that everyone can learn from each other’s experiences.

For other articles to protect yourself from burn out at work, check these out:
Work Life Matters: We Need To Have Fun
8 Types Of Work-Related Stress
Know Your Limits

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21 replies on “Learning to Say No At Work

  1. Wise advice, Kally.

    Something else to consider is that, more than an automatic “yes,” your boss is looking for maturity, discretion, and the ability to manage a workload.

    By saying, “no” when the situation calls for it, you’re demonstrating all three. Perhaps instead of dooming your career, the occasional “no” enhances your professional desireability.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Be true to yourself first. Be graceful and grateful for the opportunity, but firmly decline, offering your commitment in other areas perhaps. Do not take a position just to please, comply or to pretend you will like it. The working life is a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to look beyond and not just the inmediate allure or reward a new position or job is offering.

    Liked by 2 people

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