Can You Say No to Your Boss? Tips for Helping to Say No at Work. Part 1.

The tense and demanding workplace environment depicted in The Devil Wears Prada may hit a little too close to home. If an annoying boss or colleague is ruining your work day by adding to your stress or intruding into your personal time, you’re not alone. According to an online job source survey, more than half of workers say they work under a great deal of stress, with nearly 77 percent reporting they feel burnout on the job.

When it comes to office peer pressure or bully bosses, finding the right words to say ‘no’ can be hard. In the world of work—and out of it—nervy people will ask just about anything of anybody either increasing your workload or eating up your free time or both. They continually overstep your boundaries and think nothing of it unless you stop them.

How Do You Say NO?

Here are five tips from The Book of NO for refusing to be the go-to person and for turning down office social invitations you can’t, shouldn’t or don’t want to attend:

1. Don’t make a habit of covering for the slackers or you’ll be doing double duty on a regular basis.

2. Be mindful when work and private life responsibilities compete for your time.

3. Agree to requests only when the task is vital or necessary to keep your job or insure career advancement or you are willingly and happily able to help out.

4. In order to reduce the chance of being perceived as unreasonable, accompany your no with plausible alternatives such as splitting up the task, getting extra help, or rearranging due dates or priorities. Offering options voices your refusal without having to say, "Are you kidding? No way."

5. You can be just as effective in saying ‘no’ without actually using the no word. Say instead, "Wish I could, but I am on overload;" "I want to help you, but it’s important to finish what I have to do;" or "what a nice opportunity—I can’t say yes or no, but will get back to you in a day or two."

Check back on Thursday for 5 more tips in saying no!  Let me know some that you think should be added to this list using the comments section below.

By Susan Newman, Ph.D. for


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