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Your guide to saying no at work without feeling guilty

24 Aug 2018

It’s important to have boundaries in all relationships, especially professional ones. If you need to say no, here’s how you can handle the conversation without feeling guilty.

If you’re ambitious and conscientious, you’ll want to work as hard as you possibly can. This is, in principle, a good trait, but it could actually be to the detriment of your career.

The key is striking the balance between pushing yourself and taking on more than you can possibly handle. If you overtax yourself, the quality of your work will be diminished. More importantly, you risk burning out and negatively impacting your wellbeing.

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally telling your boss you can’t take on any new tasks. If anything, it’s essential for personal development. Boundaries are important in all relationships, especially professional ones.

Being able to correctly identify when you have reached your limits is a good thing. It means that you have an accurate understanding of how much work you can do in a given timeframe. That’s much better than the alternative – giving yourself too much to do and then not submitting deliverables on time.

It works out better both for you and your place of work if you never have too much to do. Knowing this doesn’t make the prospect of broaching it less intimidating, though.

Fortunately, The Business Backer has produced this wonderful infographic full of great advice on how to say no at work without feeling guilty.

A lot of the tips are common sense, really. The same principles could be applied to bringing up any potentially sensitive subject in a workplace setting. Some of the tips differ depending on if you’re speaking to a superior or a colleague.

Be honest and straightforward with whomever you’re speaking to. Your request isn’t unreasonable. Everyone can relate to having a bit too much to do and, if you’re upfront and clear, you’ll be met with empathy.

Endeavour to have these discussions in person. It’s difficult to convey tonal nuance over email or text, so request a quick meeting with the person face to face.

For some more great tips on how to say no at work, check out the infographic below.

Say no at work

Infographic: The Business Backer

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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