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Acceptable Times to Tell Your Boss ‘No’

Saying no doesn’t come easy in the workplace- especially when it comes to saying it to your boss. We often believe that we should always do what our boss instructs us to do as a way to avoid ruining your relationship or coming off as insubordinate. However, there are situations where you can and should say ‘no’ because if you don’t you’ll be miserable at your job and your productivity will likely plummet. Learning when and how to say no to your boss are important communication skills that every employee should know. Let’s take a look at some of the times it is acceptable to say no to your boss.

As Glassdoor states, when your boss makes you do tasks that are more closely associated with being a personal assistant than a member of his department you should definitely say no. If your boss has you running his personal errands and taking major time out of your work schedule, then you have to put your foot down and tell him no. You run the risk of being taken advantage of, and in the workplace you need to stand your ground and show that you’re there to focus on your work and not run personal errands for your boss.

When it comes to saying no, you need to explain exactly why you are saying no. Avoid saying ‘no’ simply because you just you don’t want to do it. You need to make your boss understand why you are rejecting his request in this situation. The next time he or she asks you to run to the coffee shop for their morning coffee tell them that if you do this and other errands as well that you won’t be able to turn in your work on time. Make them realize that these errands are running the risk of effecting your ability to meet deadlines. Meeting those deadlines are an important factor in keeping the organizational structure flowing.

In the majority of workplaces, deadlines are a given, but when your boss piles on the work tight deadlines can become a major source of stress. As talented as you may be multi-tasking, there comes a time when too much work becomes unmanageable. If your boss is giving you more work than you can handle, then you need to say no to the constant addition of work. However, just saying no is not the best way to go about the situation.

The next time your boss gives you a new project to take on amongst the many others you have, tell them that at the moment you’re working on too many things to take on another project. Let them know that once you finish what you’re working on you’ll gladly take on new work and give it the amount of time it needs to get done efficiently. Once your boss realizes that all of the work pile up may be affecting your work performance, they’ll know they need to space out your work, or hand it over to someone else who isn’t taking on as much work as you.

Plus, as much as we’d like to learn new skills, there comes a time when we realize there’s certain work outside our skill set that someone in another department can do better. Ultimately, this realization is better for the organization as well because the work goes to the person who can complete it the best. If your boss gives you a project that’s outside of your acquired skill set, you can give it a shot, but you should say no if it’s under a very tight deadline. With a tight deadline, you won’t have the chance to learn the skills you need to accomplish it. Let them know that there is someone in another department that can do the work better since this isn’t your direct skill set.

However, if you have the time to learn what you need in order to complete the task, take on the project and show your boss you can take on new responsibilities. Knowing when to say no and when to take on new tasks is all part of being professional and successful. Without knowing when to say no, you may lead yourself down the path of burnout and stress.

Have you ever had to say, “no” to one of your bosses? What was the outcome? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by marc falardeau

Hanna Guerrero

Hannah is an intern writer here at Spark Hire. She is from the northern suburbs in Chicago and is currently studying journalism at DePaul University. She has always had a passion for writing which is why Journalism has proven to be the perfect career for her. She has written for the DePaulia Online on various topics such as fashion, music, movies and television. She loves living in Chicago because it offers exciting events to write stories on. In her free time she enjoys going to music concerts, watching movies with friends, cooking vegetarian food and walking her adorable Cocker Spaniel Coco.