How to Say “No” to Extra Work



  1. Be Clear about your agenda
  2. Explain why you are saying “No”
  3. Practice

In a Nutshell:

You can’t say yes to everything. Nor can you say no all the time. There is a balance and in business it is important to know when to agree to do something and when you can say that you can’t Here are some suggestions:

  1. Check your calendar

Before you agree, tell the person that you have to check your calendar to see if time is available. Respond quickly and explain why, if it is no, you cannot take on the assignment.

  • Be clear about your boundaries

Establish in your mind your priorities and limits. Let people know what they are.

  • Know the areas of competence of your colleagues

It may well be that the assignment is within the scope of someone else. Point that out. This also prevents you from invading the territory of another person and causing problems.

  • Ask for time to consider the request

Train yourself to say “Let me think about it,” or “I’ll get back to you.” Most reasonable people will give you time to consider the offer.

  • Negotiate.

Make it clear that if you take on this assignment, you will have to give something else up.

  • Consider who is making the request

Does this person have the right to ask you to take on an additional assignment? If it is not your boss, tell the person that you will have to consult with your supervisor before you agr

Published by pitman

I am a Business English Coach who works with managers and other professionals helping them to perform at their best when it is most important: such as a presentation, meeting with an important client, or a job interview. I am also a resource person for teachers of Business English.

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