How to Say No to Your Boss
It can be really tough to turn down a request from your boss or supervisor. But, sometimes it’s necessary and the right thing to do. Here are some tips to help you draw the line without inviting any negative consequences.
(Photo Credit: sboneham/Flickr)
1. Keep it short and simple.
Like with anything else, it’s best to turn down requests with a brief and direct explanation. Just like when you cancel plans with a friend, saying that you’re sick, your car won’t start, and you have too much work to do, all at once, sound a little suspicious. But, if you keep it short and simple, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I just can’t make that work,” your rejection might go over a little better.
2. Consider redefining responsibilities.
Instead of saying no, think about saying yes to this new project and then using that to let go of another task that you’ve outgrown. Once you’ve thought it all through, meet with your boss and lay out your idea. Let her know that you think your time would be better spent on this new endeavor and that, in order to have time for it, you feel that this other thing can be wrapped up or handed off to another employee. It might be nice to have a change.
3. Don’t bring up your contract.
It’s so tempting, so often, to mention when an assigned task doesn’t fall with the job description, (or set hours), laid out in your contract. Still, referencing that away from the negotiation table could hurt your case for a raise later on. Save that conversation for your next review. Plus, the fact is that everyone does stuff that’s not a part of their contract. That’s where the “…other duties as assigned,” business gets ya.
4. Just don’t do it often and you shouldn’t have a problem.
The best way to get away with saying no to something once in a while is just that — do it once in a while. If you usually happily agree to take on a little something extra, it’s easy to say no every so often. So, pick and choose what you turn down carefully.
5. Offer an alternative.
Sometimes we want to say no to doing something, not because we’re too busy, but because we don’t agree with the strategy that’s suggested to solve a problem. It’s difficult to invest yourself in a project you don’t believe in. The trick here is to keep your language positive. Rather than saying that you don’t think that will work, say something like, “Can I throw out another idea?” and see how that goes over. It’s always a good idea to try to solve a problem, rather than just disagreeing with the solution that’s offered.
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Gina Belli works as a teacher, freelance writer, and educational consultant, and lives in her beloved home state, Connecticut. She likes to write about education, work-life balance, and the economy. Given her arresting capacity to over-analyze anything interpersonal, her writing often tends to focus on some of the more emotional aspects of workplace connections and disconnections, as they relate to partnerships and teams, personality and communication styles, and leadership. In her free time, she likes to putter around her renovated one-room schoolhouse home, take walks in the woods, and eat as much guacamole as she can get her hands on.