Many people are hesitant to say no at work and feel that management wants a yes person. But, often, saying no will earn you respect and even benefit your organization. However, saying yes can indeed cement your reputation and provides more responsibilities. Being able to say no, in the right way can help protect you from burnout and feeling overloaded. 

Here are three situations when it is okay to say no:

  • The task falls outside your actual responsibilities. You should be mindful of your job expectations and be willing to turn down a task that does not fit your goals. It may distract you from performing your job. 
  • You are not qualified or the best person to complete the task. Typically this comes up when a coworker asks for your help. In some instances, there may be another person in the office who would be better suited for the task.
  • You find yourself responding to emails and messages routinely when off the clock or at home. Unfortunately, many employers expect this kind of 24/7 availability, but it is terrible for your mental health, social life, and family.

As humans, we are inclined to say yes. We want to say yes. Especially if there is a power dynamic involved, we are even more prone to agree first and think about it later. Learning to evaluate whether you should say yes, and how to say no graciously is a vital skill in work and life in general. When necessary, don’t be afraid to say the word no at work. For information on career coaching, contact us at Heartland Resumes. We’d love to help you with interview coaching! 


This article was originally published in August 2020 and has been recently updated.