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18 May 2024

Worried over career? Here's how to say 'no'

By Shuchita Kapur

Are you fed up with yourself just because you say ‘yes’ to everything your manager asks you to do, whether it’s after official hours or repeatedly the tasks that are not a part of your work profile?

Many employees are plain scared or intimidated to say ‘no’ to the boss, fearing a backlash. But this is not necessarily true. You can say ‘no’ to the boss without hurting your career. There are times when you have to put your foot down but make sure it is done in a way that does not annoy your line manager.

Firstly, you have to assess the situation and if it warrants a ‘no’. Is everybody tied up with work around you? Is the extra work being given during office hours and does it happen only once a month or so? In such situations it’s not wise to say a ‘no’.

But, under other circumstances you may have to disagree with the boss. Is the extra work coming your way all the time when the tasks can be delegated to other members in the team? Are you being asked to work late repeatedly? Is your office work eating up your family time and weekends? In such cases, it is absolutely fine to say ‘no’ to the boss.

But, saying ‘no’ to one who controls your increments and promotions is an art. A plain ‘no’ can backfire. Talk to your boss about the already piled up work that you have at hand. Ask him to help you prioritize what needs to be done and what can be put on hold.

Once you show him that your plate is full, he will understand that it is not humanly possible for you to finish everything. Let him prioritize your work. By doing this you will make your boss focus on the most important things and leave the other tasks without saying a rude ‘no’.

Look for alternatives and suggest those to your boss. For example, you can do one part of the work and the rest can be delegated to another colleague who is not as bogged down with work as you or can even be outsourced. If the boss sees that it is becoming virtually impossible for you to handle and there is an alternative available, he will concede to your suggestions.

However, all bosses are different. If you are lucky then you may succeed in making your manager understand that you can’t be overloaded with work all the time and he can’t expect a ‘yes’ every time you are assigned to accomplish a task.

But, if you are caught with a difficult and very rigid one – we suggest start looking out. Look for employers who value your time outside of work and believe that you have a life outside the four walls of the office.

Just as work, personal life is equally important. A good employer will never keep you away from planned time off, a family wedding or your child’s function in school and as a sensible employee you have to draw boundaries and if you are stuck in this situation it’s perhaps time to start saying ‘no’.

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