How to say no at work

How to say no at work

how to say no at work

When you need to say no.

Saying no can be as hard to do at work as it is at home. If you’ve been asked to do something you don’t have time to do, or aren’t qualified to do, how you say no can go a long way to showing you’re still a cooperative team player.

1. Do it in person 

Emails can be misinterpreted, and your colleagues will appreciate that you took the time to seek them out and explain. You can also address any counterproposals immediately, without things dragging on over email.


2. Give the real reason you cannot do it 

If there’s a positive change that can come from your refusal, lying about the reason will result in a missed

3. Suggest an alternative 

If you can’t do it, suggest someone in the company who can, and give their details, rather than just saying no.

4. Ask for help 

If you don’t have the capacity for extra work, show willing by asking your boss to review your workload. There could
be a junior colleague who can take over some of your more basic tasks and give you the capacity to take on more.

Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find they haven’t half the strength you think they have. — Norman Vincent Peale

Anything but sorry

Contrary to the words in Elton John’s song, sorry isn’t necessarily the hardest word to say. In some, it’s a hard-to-break habit and it could affect your career if you overuse it at work. ‘Sorry, could you hold the lift?’ is okay (although unnecessary), but it’s during other interactions that it can be more problematic. We use it because we think it’s polite,
and deferential to superiors, but it becomes easy to overuse and could land guilt at your door unnecessarily. Not only that, you’ll come across as passive and less confident.

Try this

how to say no at work

The golden rules?

When making a warranted apology, make sure you mean it, don’t do it with expectations of immediate forgiveness
or a certain response, take real responsibility for your actions without shifting blame, and follow it up with positive action.



Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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