Are You Ready to Say “No” to Your Boss?

say no to boss

In the current work environment, it isn’t easy for an employee to be someone other than a ‘yes-woman’ or a ‘yes-man’. Asked to complete a task different from what you signed up or are capable of? Had your workload increased? Requested to work the weekend? You are no different from a multitude of other workers who, despite feeling strongly about it, would not be able to decline.

Steve Liefschultz thinks otherwise. There are circumstances where it is alright to put your foot down and there are ways other than a blunt “no” to refuse without causing offense and risking your employment.

Setting Boundaries

  1. Say no if it is affecting your health: A slow and steady influence is hard to notice. But if you are the one person in the office who is sitting all day at the workstation, who is losing sleep to ensure everything is completed in the right manner, who is allowing stress to gnaw away at their rational state of mind – your health is deteriorating due to your work pressure.

A walk during lunch and taking scheduled vacations are some things you need to incorporate in your schedule. If the work isn’t allowing this, it’s time to say no.


  1. Say no if it is affecting your family life: As important as the financial stability is for you, you need to remember that the office is but one part of your routine. Sure you are working overtime to provide for them, for their educational needs etc, but if you aren’t getting to spend quality time with them when you both need it, what you earn doesn’t seem to be of much value, does it?

Create memories with your partner and kids while you can. You have an identity of your own; have fun and reflect on what’s important to help you avoid burnout and grow as person.


  1. Say no if it is affecting your integrity: Probably the most stressful of all is having to sacrifice your beliefs in order to retain the job. They may not always have to be illegal or unethical. But once you have realized that it is difficult to be productive and follow up on these actions, it is high time you said no to your boss who should be willing to consider things from your point of view as well.

How to Say No

What Steve Liefschultz has learnt over time is that refusal is taken relatively well if you present it in a better way. Perhaps you could provide an alternate solution to the issue, like sharing the project with other colleagues (whose background or interest lies in the specific area) or suggesting a new, more efficient arrangement to handle work. The more research you do regarding the internal/external factors, the more confidently you can put forth the proposal and ensure it is well received in the discussion. For a greater impact, timing it right is also crucial in seeing your boss doesn’t play defensive.

Of course, the best thing would be if you had established these rules from the beginning only, stating clearly that you wouldn’t be available during holidays or weekends and where you can chance some leeway. That way, a “no” wouldn’t carry the element of surprise for the employer either.

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