How to Say No at Work Without Sounding Aggressive

We all went through many situations where our boss or colleague asks us to do an extra task. Usually, we feel somewhat embarrassed so we end up saying yes, even though we might not have time or we already have many tasks in our hands. So, all we do is just loading ourselves with more work because we felt embarrassed to refuse.

Have you ever tried to count the number of situations you loaded yourself with work just because you were embarrassed or scared to say no?

We are here to help; we are going to give you some tips on how to say no at work without sounding offensive.


1- Know all the Task’s details

Before rejecting, you have to be aware of the entire task’s details so you know what you’re saying no to.

So here how it goes, if someone came up to you to assign you a task, don’t give an immediate answer, just reply with “Let me check it first and I’ll let you know”. Then check if you have time to do it; if the task won’t interrupt your work, and most importantly if the task is related to your field of work. Put in mind that some companies take advantage of their employees especially if they knew they have other skills that could support another department.


2- Be Straightforward, Don’t Lie

If you can’t do the task then give your reasons and state that you can’t do it, but never come up with a lie so you can get off the hook.

Don’t fake excuses, if you don’t have time or busy then just say it so they can know that as long as you are unavailable, they can’t ask you to do more tasks.


3- Think It Through

Before saying a straight no, you have to know what exactly you will be saying. Don’t refuse and then start to stutter because you don’t know what to say. They won’t be needing an answer right away, so take your time, arrange your thoughts after knowing the task, think of all the reasons you’re saying no, and the consequences of refusing.


4- Give Other Alternative Solutions

If you don’t want to let down your boss or colleague, then offer them other solutions to help with the extra work. You don’t want them to get the vibes that you’re procrastinating or you’re lazy.

So instead of doing it yourself, you can offer solutions, for example, you can offer that you can do it first thing in the morning of the next day or offer that you can help whoever will be doing it.


5- Keep Your Explanation Clear and Honest

Spare all the details of what you’re doing that is making you unable to do more tasks; just clarify that you’re busy doing other work and that you have to finish it.

Don’t give too many details, just state your reasons and that’s it.


6- Prioritize Your Tasks

You have to prioritize your work; check what is urgent and what can be postponed, you can even ask for your boss’s help to prioritize.

They can push back some deadlines for you so you can free up some space for the task. If you have urgent tasks that need to be finished, then there will be no harm in saying no, but if your boss postponed some projects, then there’s no need to say no since your boss is the one who is responsible.


 To build a career and to be successful, you don’t have to be available or say yes all the time; you have to learn to say no to stay focused to actually build a career out of doing your job perfectly.

Think Marketing

Knowledge Hub Specialized in Publishing Insights and Analytics Developed for Digital Marketing, Public Relations and Communications Experts.