How to say “no” to a manager who wants more work from us?

One of the things we struggle with throughout our careers, especially at the beginning, is saying the key word “no”; Because we have trained our minds to say “yes” to everything. Most of us have the view that the more we work, the more our career progress will be; I get more praise, get paid more, and get promoted faster. These are the things we tell ourselves, but unfortunately most of the time it doesn’t come true.

When your manager asks you to help your team or colleagues get something done, lead a new initiative, or take on the responsibility of another team, it can be difficult to say no. Can you say no at all? Or do you reluctantly say yes and secretly wish you had said no?

How to say no to more work?

Here’s how to say “no” when your boss asks you to do more.

1- Check the list of your current projects

First, check your current to-do list with your manager. According to statistics recently published by, 61% of business leaders stated in their questionnaire that they will lay off some of their employees in 2023. What you should pay attention to is this: Organizations will always continue to re-evaluate their priorities, reallocate tasks and stop some projects. Reviewing the to-do list is an important opportunity to check back in with your manager about the project you’re working on to make sure you’re actually working on projects that are still important to the company’s success.

Your managers are “human”; They can forget what task they gave you, how important it was, and how involved each team member is in assigned tasks and projects. Before your manager gives you a new job, go over your current work with him. Your manager’s feedback may pleasantly surprise you! It may help you re-prioritize your tasks. It might explain how this new job is related to what you’re currently working on, or even change their mind about not giving you that particular job after seeing the different jobs you’ve been working on.

2- If you said “yes”, say “no” to something else

If you said yes to the job you were given, see if you can say no to one of your current jobs. Some managers may not agree to stop the current work. For example, you could say to your manager, “I know you want me to take on this new responsibility now; What do you think about stopping the newsletter we started this season and reevaluating it for next season?” He may agree with this stop or even say the importance of the current project and postpone this new responsibility to the next season.

It’s completely understandable to be concerned about our job security, especially in this economic climate. However, being able to deliver “quality” work that impacts the success of the organization is far more important than the “quantity” of work we deliver.

Don’t forget that no matter how much you do, your impact on any project may be reduced or ignored. Doing more does not necessarily increase your job security. Not being able to make the expected impact of the organization on the various projects you receive may even have a negative impact on your position.

3- Give this opportunity to someone else

Finally, leave the new job opportunity to someone else. For example, you may be offered a wonderful opportunity, but you are currently busy doing other wonderful things. By accepting that new project, you may not be able to have the tremendous impact you are looking for, given the volume of your current work. So think to yourself, which of your colleagues is looking for such an opportunity? You may recall that a co-worker told you that he was looking for an opportunity to do great things or that he wanted more meaningful work. Coordinate with your manager and delegate this opportunity to someone else.

Of course, don’t forget to never give him a job without his knowledge and approval. The feeling of being forced to do something that you didn’t choose voluntarily is one of the worst feelings and can cause feelings of anger. Make sure you are aware of the person’s career interests and how they are trying to promote themselves; Then you might be in a position to offer them the opportunity you’ve been given.

Saying “no” to your boss is never easy, but when you’re constantly saying “yes” to everything, whether you realize it or not, you’re slowly saying “no” to your current projects and tasks. Saying “no” is just as important as saying “yes”. Saying “no” is an important skill to learn in order to properly manage your career path.

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