Tag Archives: feeling guilty?

How to Say No: How to say no to extra work without feeling guilty

Do you get overloaded at work because you hate to say ‘’no.’’ This is a common problem, one that you can’t afford if you’re too busy already.

So, how can you turn down these requests without feeling guilty? The key is to say ‘’yes’’ but give a different kind of help – anything but taking the monkey on your back. Offer advice or suggestions. Ask the person to talk you through how he would do the work.

We find it hard to say ‘’no’’ because we don’t want to give the impression that the person or the task is unimportant. Even if the person doesn’t get this message, we might worry that we gave this impression anyway. So, a good strategy is to counter this feeling, both in yourself and in the other person. You might say that you can see how important this task is and stress how much you would like to help. Instead of apologizing and saying that you are just too busy, it is always better to focus on the other person’s needs instead of your own. If you say you can’t do the work, you might make yourself look bad or feel bad. It is much better to talk about the person’s need to get a job done. Instead of saying you can’t do it, stress the point that to give this task the justice it deserves you would need to dedicate so many hours to it. And, because you wouldn’t want to disappoint the person with a poor job, you might have to delay it for a certain length of time. Then say that you could perhaps be of more assistance by showing the person how to do the task or referring him to someone else.

If the person asking you to do the task is your boss, ask her what the priority for it is relative to other things you have on the go. If you regard your boss as one of your most important customers, it is a good idea to check regularly to see how her needs are shifting and how you should invest your resources to enable her to achieve her needs. This serves as a reminder to your boss that you have quite a lot on your plate, and it may help her to think more carefully about how to make the best use of you rather than simply dumping everything on you. The key is to negotiate priorities rather than simply say you can’t do it.