How to Confidently Say "No" at Work

When you’re at work, it’s easy to be caught up in a whirlwind of trying to impress the boss. You want to be good at what you do, while building up to that elusive promotion, and sometimes that means you feel like you need to say yes to everything that is asked of you.

Here’s a secret for you: you don’t.

Sometimes, you need to say yes. You say yes to a new office. To new promotions. To new pay rises. And then there are other times that saying ‘no’ is the best thing that you could do for yourself at work. No, you don’t want that extra overtime. No, you don’t want to head up another project when you’re already leading four of them. No, you don’t support the idea that your colleague just put forward. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean that you don’t want to progress in your company; it simply means that you value your time for yourself on occasion.

You need to know your rights in the workplace, because all to often people say yes because they feel like they have no other choice. Contacting to find out if you’ve been mistreated simply for not taking that extra overtime or disagreeing with your boss is important. Your work is a big part of your life, but that doesn’t mean that you need to give up everything about yourself for work. The key is knowing HOW to say no in a polite and diplomatic way.

To Your Boss

When you’re barely keeping your head above water due to volume and you’re asked to take on more, it’s perfectly acceptable to decline. Instead of answering with a blunt ‘no’ or using passive aggressive behaviour to suggest you’ve been overloaded with work, simply thank them for the opportunity and explain that you are working on other projects.

To Co-Workers

It’s nice to be nice and help people, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or inclination in the workplace. Don’t lie about your expertise, just explain that at this time you’re not interested in taking on new projects just yet.

To Employees

You want to be a good leader and encourage personal and professional development, every employer does. The thing is, you can’t always be everything to everyone at every minute of the day. You also need to give your staff that time of day to listen to their ideas, but sometimes their ideas won’t work for your vision. Try thanking them for their thoughts and explain why they wouldn’t work right now.

In Conclusion

No one wants to be that ‘no’ person, who can’t tell people yes, ever. The problem is that by saying ‘yes’ all the time, you get taken advantage of in the workplace and people then come to rely on you to do everything - also not what you want. Every once in a while, you need to weigh up what’ll work for YOU and decide for you what’s best. Don’t be afraid to be real.