How to say no to your boss and colleague for any task

“If a colleague approaches me for help I am constantly accessible.” “My boss, at whatever point he needs a hand, calls me.” “Despite the fact that I’m exhausted, I never withdraw.” If you recognize yourself in one of the previous statements, know that you are one who cannot or say no to your boss.

A problem not just in the workplace, even if a “yes man” or a “yes woman” certainly has the job insured because there will never be ahead so crazy as to make such a condescending person escape.

But is it always true to say yes?


say no to your boss

say no to your boss


According to the expert, in fact, being too available may compromise personal relationships, and not just those of working nature. The ideal would be to find a balance between professional affirmation, one’s health (physical and mental) and one’s private life.

Stuff easy to say, but less to do.

If you are employed in a company where you are evaluated only for the last thing done – and not for the years of effort and sweat – you can probably stop reading this article immediately and continue with your “Yes, sir!” Tactic: it’s the right one.

If, on the other hand, the judgment of your boss depends on your work over the months, if not over the years, continuing these lines could give you some good advice.


One of the secrets of life is knowing how to make the right choices: those that do not affect but improve serenity, self-esteem and personal growth. Our life is divided into yes and no. Perhaps they do not lead anywhere, they force us to remain in a limbo that has nothing to do with growth.


Today we are talking about a problem related precisely to the choices or rather to the answers. We are particularly talking about saying no to your colleagues and your boss and their importance in the workplace.


This is a topic closely related to our work, every day we talk to the employees of the companies we work with and get confirmation: saying no to your boss can be very difficult, but sometimes necessary.


Learn to say No: why?

Before the “how” always come the “why”: if you understand why sometimes you have to say no, you will probably be able to pronounce this word more serenely.


We do not pretend that you should become a war machine and not consider any request that affects your work rate. A new activity can stimulate you, increase your skills. Favour granted to a colleague can improve your reputation and even your self-esteem can make you feel useful!


But, as in all things: too lame. Saying no to colleagues, especially at work, is very difficult: most people fear the negative judgment of colleagues and bosses. Assertiveness, if used in the right way, allows us to build balanced relationships in every area of ​​our lives, but favours and requests should not make you feel uncomfortable or steal your happiness.


It is necessary to know how to draw a line between yourself and the rest of the world, this limit, while not preventing a constructive exchange with the other, allows you to create your identity and express your opinions without fear.


Here another factor comes into play, self-esteem: those who have little think that it is legitimate to sacrifice themselves to please others, but at the same time, they live badly because they would like to impose themselves but do not succeed. In this case, saying no to your boss causes a strong sense of guilt.


In reality, giving negative answers sometimes helps to increase credibility in the eyes of others and also our self-esteem, we analyze the issue in the workplace.


Say No to work


There are different types of working environments: in some cases, you work in a relaxed place, where you feel at ease and able to expose yourself; in other environments, instead, we work in a much more formal context characterized by a hierarchical division of roles.


We have noticed how different the attitude of the employees in the two environments is: in the more informal one there is more freedom and even the more timid ones are able to confront and express themselves, while in the second it is much more difficult to expose oneself and impose oneself.


However, always saying yes and getting overloaded with work and responsibility can have negative effects. We think first of all that it can affect work stress: being involved in projects and always new tasks prevent us from doing them as professionals. The risk is that of feeling incapable.


Moreover, it is difficult to finish the job and meet the deadlines, this could cause a bad reputation, it would be a symptom of low reliability.


Now let’s talk about you: ask questions that begin with ” Are you willing to … ” or ” Do you have a minute to … ” how do you behave?


How to say No to Colleagues and Superiors


Helping colleagues and bosses are not so bad, but learning how to say no to your bosses and saying no to your colleagues is a must! The lives of employees who cannot refuse their colleagues and superiors often turn into a nightmare. Taking advantage of the timidity and desire of such people to please everyone, colleagues begin at first a little and then completely shamelessly use these weaknesses.

However, in any situation, you can always put an end to when you are offered something unprofitable or difficult to do.

We will help you learn to say no.


  1. Failure is not a disaster

You barely have time to fulfil your duties and already understand that part of the planned cases will have to be postponed until tomorrow or stay late until work. But here, because of the monitor, your colleague appears and, with a slightly guilty grin, asks you to edit his letter or call the problem client.

Your first and only desire is to brush aside the annoying co-worker, but something prevents you from giving a refusal, and, resenting your own softness, you agree.


Once you give a slack once, a rumour about your dependability spreads around the office at the speed of hot gossip. In this case, try to imagine the worst-case scenario – you say no to your colleague.

What will happen? It is unlikely that a colleague will be so obsessed with you that it will cross out your entire career. You have the right to be busy with your own affairs and manage your own time. Therefore, your “no” will not affect your future career.


  1. Explanation instead of excuses

However, some indecisive persons periodically still defend their interests. But here it is worth paying attention to one caveat – instead of excuses, it is better to use explanations. A guilty tone and insecure posture will not help you defend your interest.


If you reasonably and briefly state the reason for the refusal, then you definitely have a chance to “reach out” to the annoying colleague. But the lengthy spreading of thoughts, an attempt to please the interlocutor and not cause him irritation, will have the opposite effect. Be brief, because you just argue your refusal and protect your business interests.


Even if before that you had an unimportant reputation for a trouble-free employee, a couple of short and reasoned refusals will permanently discourage your colleagues who parasitize on the softness of their colleagues.


  1. Functionality – First of all

What is suitable for rank-and-file co-workers may not be a “ride” with the leader. To refuse orders from above in most companies is somehow not accepted. Those who are seriously puzzled by career-building issues should probably not give up the additional burden on the part of the leadership.


But here there are some exceptions – if the authorities are shamelessly exploiting you, then you should think about your own benefit in this situation. Even if you are not promised any financial bonuses or official preferences, it’s worthwhile to take on additional work if it helps you gain new experience or expand your portfolio.


But if your boss has simply gone too far, you have every right to fulfil only your immediate duties, for which you get paid. In this case, you can justify your refusal by saying no to your boss by referring to the current workload of your immediate responsibilities. Instead of complaints, just refer to the fact that time is barely enough to complete all the tasks.


  1. Hone your skills

Perhaps your first “no” will be far from the desired result, but you still need to start with something. Therefore, as soon as you begin to feel that your colleagues want to use you, refuse. And do not see this as something personal, you just do your job and you can’t waste time-solving other people’s problems.

You will be more convincing over and over again, and one day you will find that the problem has completely disappeared. Of course, you should not bristle every time when a colleague or leader calls for help from you, but the ability to say “no” refers to valuable business qualities.


Employees who know how to politely and distinctly refuse to perform someone else’s work or disadvantageous assignments are usually highly respected, unlike their weak-minded colleagues. The ability to say “No” will allow you to devote more resources to the fulfilment of your professional duties, and also protect your personal free time from encroachments.


say no to your boss

say no to your boss

Here are our tips to better address and manage negative responses and saying no to your bosses and colleagues.

Five ways to say No to your boss or colleague

Based on our experience, there are several tricks to assert one’s position without being aggressive or unconvincing.

Here are our five tips:


  • The best allies are simplicity and clarity: simply answer “No, sorry, I can’t” or “I can’t, I’m sorry” or “Sorry, but now I just can’t do it”. Accompany any denial with the magic words “Forgive me but …” “Sorry” “I’m sorry” your listener will feel your empathy and empathy and will be more willing to accept. The “I wish but I cannot” works in a similar way because in both cases we add an emotional element to the denial and make it more acceptable.


  • Motivate: if you really can’t be too hasty, you could provide motivation. Also, in this case, you have to be fast and lethal: “I’m sorry, I can’t, now I have too much to do” or “I have another commitment”. These explanations will help the other to understand that you too have your life and you care about protecting it from any intrusions with straight legs.


  • Offer an alternative: for example, if a person fails to do a thing, do not do it in his place but show it how it is done and make yourself available for clarification (you also understand that it cannot abuse it, though).


  • Now let’s talk about important decisions: for example, your boss asks you to travel to another city for a few days. You need to think about it, you have to keep your commitments in mind and get organized. Take the time to respond. If you immediately say “yes” you risk going through a person who does not have a life outside the office and this will give your boss one more reason to rely on you from then on.


  • Finally, if you have to refuse by saying no to your boss you have to say it out loud! Very often replies sent by e-mail or telephone messages can be misinterpreted. So if you get a virtual request, answer with ” In the talk tomorrow in the office “. At the time of the discussion, watch out for the non-verbal language of your body that could betray you at the least appropriate time. Show yourself always available, friendly but also convinced of your decisions.


It takes time to learn how to handle negative responses, at first you will be a little awkward, maybe sometimes you will give in to insistence or to the big eyes of your colleagues, but if you apply yourself, with the time you will find your formula and you will be able to dose no with yes.



Carrying out every request of the boss and accepting any assignment sometimes helps to make a career. But almost always it seriously damages one’s well-being and personal relationships. “Knowing how to say no to your boss and colleagues, especially if you have been available to date, cannot ruin your reputation.”

Word of the American expert who assures, “saying a no to your boss and colleagues can make you gain only further respect”. But be careful: if you are waiting to receive a promotion it is perhaps not the case to make a sudden turnaround after so many yeses.

Grit your teeth a little more and wait for the time to mature. But once you have identified the right moment, you can, and must, begin to refuse.


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