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Six Times When It’s Okay to Say ‘No’ At Work

The professional nature of workplaces often makes you feel like you are obliged to say yes to every request and take on as many responsibilities as possible, even at your expense. Relationships are essential for growth in the workplace, and you might feel like saying no to those requests might burn some bridges and affect your rapport with them.

However, saying ‘no’ will save you a lot of stress and help you manage your time, improving your efficiency, as well. Here are six times when it’s okay to say ‘no’ at work:

When you feel like you’re being taken advantage of

While it’s normal to perform tasks outside your primary job responsibilities from time to time, you must know when to say ‘no’ to certain tasks.

You might find out that certain responsibilities are being pushed to your table—not because you are the only one who can do them—but because other people are too lazy to help out or people know you as a kind person who says yes without hesitating. To avoid being taken advantage of, learn to politely decline certain tasks, especially when they might affect other deliverables on your to-do list.

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When saying ‘yes’ will compromise your principles

Workplaces are filled with several types of people who hold varying beliefs and ethics. If your co-worker or senior colleague asks you to do something illegal (such as embezzling funds or releasing private information), you have the right and agency to say no. Doing so might have consequences, especially if you are being asked by a senior colleague, but you can stand for what is right and keep a clear conscience. Don’t enter wahala.

When saying ‘No’ will save you time and energy

When someone makes a request, weigh it adequately- if you say ‘yes’ and take on the task, will it take up your time or sap up your energy, making it harder to focus on your other duties? Will it be a waste of your efforts? If the answer is yes, it’s okay to refuse.

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When you’re occupied with other and more important tasks

You’re not a robot, remember. There’s only so much you can do at the same time. If you often say ‘yes’ to every request at your expense, you might end up overworking yourself and giving less attention to your priorities. When a request is made of you, consider all your deadlines and goals (short-term and long-term) and see if saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will draw you back or not.

If you are not qualified for the task

On certain occasions, a colleague or coworker might ask you to help out with a task that you are not qualified to do. You might feel obliged to help, out of your need to please them or maintain good terms.

However, here’s the thing: your work is a representation of you and it is advisable to avoid taking up responsibilities that you are not fully qualified for, as it could affect the quality of the result. Also, when a responsibility that is beyond your skillset is assigned to you, it lets you know what knowledge gaps you need to fill and enables you to upskill when you need to.

When a request is invasive or intrusive

This is another scenario that requires you to let go of the need to please people at your expense. Certain work requests can intrude into your time: receiving calls, attending meetings, drafting documents and assisting with other tasks after work hours and during weekends. Doing these things routinely can affect your physical and mental health, affecting personal time with your family and other responsibilities, as well. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to such requests for the sake of your health and sanity.


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