How to say “NO” to your boss and still keep your Job
Let’s face it… your boss “owns” your time when you’re at work. So, it’s reasonable to assume that when you’re asked to do something, you should never say “no.” However, there are ways and reasons you should and here are some helpful tips to make that possible without losing your job or being seen as a difficult employee. Saying “no” to your boss doesn’t really mean saying the word “no.”
First of all, who doesn’t like being the “go-to” person when something needs to get done? It validates you that the boss comes to you first. However, if you’re always the “yes” person, you run the risk of over-committing and not having the time to perform your own job to the best of your abilities. It can be nerve-wracking to say "no" to the boss, but the key is learning to say it in a way that’s tactful while still finding a solution that gets the job done.
It’s also important to understand where you are in your situation at work. Are you brand new to this job and haven’t yet made your mark? Have you recently gotten a bad review and need to prove yourself? Are you a superstar and have a great track record where you are? It matters. Sometimes you just need to say “yes.”
When you simply can’t work the weekend shift or that holiday. Maybe you already have family plans, or you’re going out of town. You could say no, or you could re-arrange your plans… but there might be another option. Instead, try to find another alternative that still gets the job done. You could suggest sharing the time with another co-worker, or come in really early one of the days to set up a banquet (or whatever the task is) and ask someone else to do the tear down. Or, if there’s enough lead time and the job allows, maybe you can work additional time to get the job done before the weekend. Try to find a solution that works for both you and the boss, and you’ll be seen as someone who cares about the company’s success.
Your boss wants to add another daily responsibility to your current duties. Rather than just saying no, explain what you’re currently handling on a daily basis and ask your boss to help you prioritize the new task into the mix. This beats saying “I don’t have time” and saying no. Again, you don’t want your “regular” work to suffer by adding this new duty. This way, the boss can decide which is more important and basically is giving you permission to alter what you’re currently doing. It’s a win-win for everyone.
You don’t think the new change (the boss wants to implement) will work. Here’s a chance to show your mastery of your job and explain why you think this new change may not work. You might “suggest another idea” as a way of saying no, in this case. By asking if you can suggest an idea, the boss may be more likely to consider it, and you will be seen as contributing to the greater good of the company.
You’re being asked to do something for which you don’t have the skills. If you really don’t have the skills to complete a task, you need to admit it. It would be worse to pretend you can do something you can’t. If you’re willing to learn, find out how you can attain the skill for future needs and work toward that. Your boss will see you as someone who is motivated to get ahead and willing to do what it takes to bring more skills to the job.
When you do say no to the boss, make sure it’s for a good reason. You want to turn the situation into a positive one by giving actionable input, making alternative arrangements or learning a new skill. It’s never good to say no because “it’s not my job,” or “I don’t want to,” or “it’s just too hard.” Instead, focus on whether a new request will bring you a new opportunity to shine in the eyes of your boss.