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How to say No at Work

Executive Assistant

Do you need to “just say “no””? These days many people employees are expected to do more work in less time. Since people want to appear eager, be a team player and be well liked, they often understandably say yes to increasing demands. But sometimes saying yes comes with a high cost — increased stress, decreased focus and lower quality work are just a few of the consequences. Saying no is a good skill to develop so you can stay healthy, avoid burnout and perform at your best.

Here are six tips for how to respond when you need to say no at work:

1- Take time
Ask for time to fully consider the request and estimate how much time you will need to complete the assignment with quality work.

2- Consider the consequences
Think through both the risks and benefits professionally and personally. Saying yes to one opportunity might get in the way of meeting an important goal you are working towards, or create exhaustion and burnout.

3- Respond in person
When you need to say no, do so in person to be sure that you convey the appropriate tone of voice, which can’t be communicated as well through email.

4- Be brief
Make your explanation short and to the point. Avoid going into details of your entire calendar and opening up all of your other projects for review.

5- Ask for help prioritizing
If a manager asks you to take on an additional project when you are already committed to something else, briefly explain your other commitment and ask for help determining which is most important to do first.

6- Propose an alternative
Ask if you can contribute in a different way, or take on the requested project at a later time.

Saying no can be beneficial personally and professionally if done thoughtfully. Need a little more inspiration to start saying no? In this short video, Debbie provides tips on saying no as a time management strategy.

If you could use help with strategies to increase your focus, contact us to learn more about our productivity consulting.

(Image courtesy of Nenetus at

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