Because of the recession, my employer laid off two of our office staff last year. Unfortunately, he did not hire replacements but simply shifted the workload over to me. I found myself in the position of wanting to say "no" at work without putting my own job in jeopardy. Absorbing the responsibilities of two additional positions put me in a precarious place because I wanted to do the work; however, there were just not enough hours in the day.
The moment came after a 10-hour day when I was handed yet another "emergency" that I realized I must learn to say no at work in a way that would avoid negative consequences.
Ways to say no at work
1. Offer an alternative - Instead of refusing to do a task, offer an alternative. You may offer to supervise someone else doing the task or offer to find another person to handle it. This is a chance to show off your management skills.
2. Agree on a different deadline - This is an excellent way to say no at work while still making yourself indispensable. Explain you are under a deadline with other projects and ask if you can have additional time to complete the new task. This shows your willingness to do whatever is needed while managing your time well.
3. Always say "no" in person - Using email or voice mail to refuse a task will come across as cold and possibly flippant. Approach your supervisor or boss in person to explain that you want to take on the task but with your current workload, you are concerned you will not be able to give each task the attention necessary to produce quality work.
4. Do not forget about the task - Even if you say no to a task, do not forget about the work. Check in with your boss to see if he was able to finish the work. Once you have met your other deadlines, ask if you can help.
5. Ask for help - There are times when I cannot take on another job without some help. If you are overloaded at work and your boss throws something else onto your plate, consider what it will take you to do the new work with your current workload. Tell you boss that without the resources on your list; you cannot take on the new work with your current workload. This shows your dedication to work in addition to your ability to solve problems.
Saying yes to every request results in lower quality work. It is worse to promise quality work and then deliver poor results or no results at all than to say no. Learning when to say no at work will help you be a better employee.
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