Stressed at Work? How to Say No to Your Boss

July 10th, 2014 | Articles, Job Search | No Comments »

Say No at Work to Your Boss

Feel overworked? You’re not alone. A study found that 33 percent of Americans work more than 40 hours a week and 11 percent work more than 50 hours. Even those who diligently stick to the 40 hour work week are feeling exhausted. According to Nielsen, 8 in 10 Americans are stressed out by at least one thing at work. Stress at work keeps us at our boiling point. Truth be told, we are probably the culprits behind our own stress.

The Downside of Being a “Nice Guy”

If your boss or a coworker was to approach you with a new project, would you say no if you’re already overworked? Probably not. There’s a prevailing mentality that anything less suggests you have a weak work ethic, lack a team spirit, or you just aren’t a nice guy. Yet agreeing to every new assignment is just as harmful.

Imagine trying to shoehorn a new project into a schedule that’s already stuffed. If you are already overworked, the stress will accumulate. Chronic stress can rewrite your brain in negative ways, sabotaging your neural networks and limiting your memory.

Plus, when there’s no wiggle room as is, so one of two things will happen:

1.) Your performance across all projects will suffer.

2.) One project, new or old, will be neglected.

Either way, your reputation can decline. Employees who regularly miss deadlines and fall short of project objectives are prone to fall out of the company’s good graces. Before too long, they may get passed up for promotions or downsized if times get desperate. So when your project load is already too heavy, it can be okay to say no at work.

Saying No without Slamming Doors

There’s a balanced way to turn down a project. Just saying, “I’m busy” will not convince anyone. Of course you’re busy. That’s the nature of good workers. To make your message clear, you have to articulate your workload in rational terms. An emotional outpouring is less effective.

Always take the project into consideration before you ever reject it outright. A softer rejection will leave less bad blood between both parties.

Here are a few ways to explain that you’re already overworked without burning any bridges.

1.) Explain Your Current Timelines – There is a finite amount of time in any workday. Articulate the amount of time needed to complete or fulfill your current obligations on a daily and weekly basis. That way, you have tangible evidence that another project won’t fit in your work schedule. If you are responding by email, a filled out calendar or day planner can convey your point nicely.

2.) Determine the Highest Priorities – Before you ever say no, ask your boss whether the project is a higher priority. If it doesn’t take precedence, it’s much easier to say no at work. Why interrupt projects that are already of vital importance for ones that offer a much smaller reward?

3.) Provide an Alternative Solution – More than just saying no to a new project, openly provide alternative solutions. Though you might not be able to shoulder the entire project, you may be able to make small contributions to its final completion. That way, the project is finished in an efficient and timely manner.

Saying no to your boss from time to time isn’t a cure-all, but it can help to alleviate some of the stress in your work life.

by James Walsh