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3 quick rules for saying no at work

There is a great deal of pressure in today’s work environment to be agreeable and to take on more work, but there comes a time when saying yes actually damages you. Here are three rules for saying no.

saying no

saying no

The pressure to say yes

The modern professional world is all about saying yes. Employees feel they have to say yes to every assignment or project because that’s what is expected of them. You may feel that you won’t be seen as dedicated to your job or a team player. But saying yes to everything can actually damage your professional reputation if it gets out of control. The keys, however, are learning how to say no and knowing when to say it. Here are the top three rules for saying no at work.

Rule three: evaluate your abilities

Don’t take on a project you knowingly can’t complete. You’re undoubtedly inundated with work tasks, and accepting even one more project just won’t allow you the time to complete each task as it was meant to be completed. By taking on assignments that are impossible to complete with the allotted time and other tasks that have the higher priority could label you as unreliable when deadlines pass you by. If you are asked to take on another project, ask your supervisor to help you prioritize tasks in order of importance. This will show that you’re willing to take on any assignment, but you’re being realistic and you understand that you can’t devote the required time to complete all your projects.

Rule two: evaluate the balance

Say no if something regularly encroaches on your personal life. It’s important to separate your professional and personal lives, and your employer should respect that. However, if you blur the line between professional and personal time, it can be hard for your boss to differentiate between the two in the future. It’s understandable to take on a project that minimizes your personal life, but only if it’s on occasion and not a regular responsibility. Important projects come up and they will need to be dealt with. However, don’t let your manager take advantage of your willingness to work long hours, hours that are needed to recuperate, relax, and rejuvenate yourself for the next workday. Enforce boundaries and garner mutual respect.

Rule one: earn the right

Earn the right to say no. As great as it would be to be able to say no to everything that interfered with a date, a long-planned vacation, or just the chance to relax at home without any of your professional responsibilities distracting you, you have to first earn the right to say no. Some professionals spend years and even decades saying yes to everything. This is how they’ve become successful. It comes down to the fact you’ll have to pay your dues one way or another. You should pick and choose when you say no, and always understand the consequences beforehand.

The takeaway

Before you know if you should say no, you must first prioritize your life. What’s more important, your professional or personal life? However, you don’t have to choose one over the other. But, if not, you may not reach your highest professional goals. Even so, it gives you the ability to find true balance in your life. Saying no at work always comes with consequences, but sometimes those consequences are worth it.

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Written By

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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