WORKPLACE / JUL. 15, 2013
version 3, draft 3

How to Say ‘No’ in the Workplace

In today’s unstable economic situation, employees often feel pressurized to perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult to complete. The reason behind this is to maintain a motivated, enthusiastic and hard-working personality at work. The inability to say no to tasks that you will be unable to execute professionally can have a detrimental effect on your career.

With many companies being understaffed and the continuous increase in workload, it is no surprise that each employee is being entrusted with additional responsibilities. However, it is important to realize when you have reached your limit of optimal productivity and notify management when you are unable to cope – better yet, inform them before you reach breaking point to avoid severe ramifications.

The following is a 3-point guide on how to say ‘no’ to more work:

# 1 - Stay Positive

Many employees fail to recognize the importance of good work relations, whether it is with superiors or inferiors in the workplace. It is imperative to say no in the most professional and acceptable manner. Keep your body language positive and make sure that you are sincere. Being defensive and abrupt will only lead to ill feelings with your co-workers. Make sure that you communicate clearly and in person, as emails can be misread to cause offense.

#2 - Explain Briefly

In the event that you are given work that you will definitely not be able to complete, it is recommended that you reinstate your current responsibilities and explain why you are unable to take on more work. However, you should keep your explanations brief – unless you are answering to your direct manager or superior. Try and explain why you cannot complete the task and offer alternate solutions in the most professional manner possible.

#3 - Keep Management in the Loop

When working in an office, there are bound to be those people who hoard off their workload onto their colleagues. This is a growing problem in office, and to address it employees are advised to keep their upper management in the loop. Whether you provide your manager with a summary of your daily tasks, or you ask you team leader to set goals and priorities, it is important to keep them informed about your work load so they are aware of the situation.

Reduce the ‘Yes Man’ Attitude

Each individual employee has a standard set of responsibilities and duties that they must complete at the end of the day. In the event that you are the employee who keeps on taking more work due to your ‘yes man’ attitude, it is advised to try and channel your confidence and learn to say ‘no’. Agreeing to more workload and taking on more duties can lead to fatigue, stress and essentially a low performance at work. It is therefore detrimental in the long run as employers will pick up on mistakes and entrust you with less work. 

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