How to Say No To Your Boss

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By Ceren Cubukcu

We've all had times where your boss wants you to take on a new assignment or asks you to do something that is outside of your job description. In this case, you have two options. You will either do whatever your boss says or push back. However, you should be careful when pushing back your boss's requests. Rather than saying 'no', you should be more political and say no to him without using the word 'no'.

Below are some tricks that will help you say no to your boss.1. Frame Your Responses Carefully: You are juggling between three different projects, you truly don't have time for anything else. However, your boss asks you to work on an additional fourth project. In this scenario, instead of saying 'No, I am too busy to work on this new project.' You should say 'I would be happy to work on it but my deadlines for project x and y are coming up this week. I don't think I have time to look at the new project this week.' Another approach is asking your boss to help you prioritize the projects. You can say 'I would be happy to work on it but my deadlines for project x and y are coming up this week. Can you help me prioritize the project list?' This approach is called a show and don't tell approach.

2. Communicate Openly: No one knows how busy you are better than you do and you have to communicate that to your boss from time to time. Always communicate clearly with your boss to avoid any misunderstandings. Also, if your boss asks you to do something that you feel uncomfortable because of your work load or a personal issue or etc., you have to explain it and express your opinions. You can say 'I don't really feel comfortable doing this because....' A simple but clear explanation will be enough for your boss.

3. Offer an Alternative: If you don't feel qualified to do a certain task, instead of saying no to your boss, you can offer an alternative such as suggesting someone else who may be interested in working on that new project or who has previous experience in that topic. 'John is more experienced in this compared to me. I know he has worked on a similar project before.' You can also ask him to make adjustments such as postponing some of the deadlines to create more time for you to work on all of the projects. Presenting options to your boss shows your interest and willingness to help and that you are not refusing work just because you don't want to do it.
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