How Do You Say “No” to Your Boss?


Is your boss asking you to do more work? Did a colleague take an extended leave, and your boss wants you to take on that person’s load? Is the office understaffed, and are you asked to work more hours? Did your office take on another project, and your manager wants you in it? Saying “No” in the office does not mean you’re not a team player. It can be a very daunting and difficult task, but it’s important to remember that it’s okay to set boundaries and prioritize your workload.


Before you break out those two letters, remember the “WH” words we were taught way back in elementary school:


Ascertain your reasons why you are unable to take on more load, get a new project, or sub in for another. Make sure your reasons are valid and fair.


Don’t just say no; offer a viable solution for the task. Make a suggestion on how to delegate the task best or prioritize others.


Everything is about timing. You can’t just walk in with a “No” when your manager is having a stressful day. If you can, catch them in a good or neutral mood.


Have you really considered the new task? Do you have all the details? Have you crossed checked your duties and your schedule? Make an informed decision on this. Also, think of your actual conversation. It’s never just a “no.” Practice what to say, so you can be direct and respectful in your communication and maintain a professional tone and attitude.


The choice is always yours. Are you going to say “yes” and soldier on, or set true boundaries and say “no.” Remember that this choice will have an impact on both you and the company.


So you’ve made your choice; you’ve seen your duties and know that it will simply not be possible to do more tasks, sub in for someone, have another project, or put in more hours because you’re understaffed. But how do you say it? Here are some lines you can use.

🔴 If you are asked to take on more work.

“I am very thankful for the trust you have in me. However, I am currently at capacity with my current workload. Let’s talk about how we can prioritize which tasks need to be done first or if there’s a possibility of delegating some of the tasks to other team members.”

🔴 An employee took a long leave?

“I understand the importance of ensuring continuity of work during an employee’s leave. However, I am not able to take on additional res

🔴 A new project comes in!

“I appreciate the opportunity; however, I am currently focused on delivering the current project on time and to the best of my abilities. Let’s discuss if there’s a possibility of adding more resources or hiring additional team members to work on the new project so that it won’t compromise the progress of the current one.”

🔴 Colleagues have left, and the company is understaffed.

“I recognize the company’s needs, and I’m willing to help, However, I have other commitments and responsibilities that I need to balance. Let’s weigh the possibility of hiring additional staff or outsourcing some of the work to cover the extra hours.”


It’s all about having honest and open communication between the team and management. Transformational Leaders will already know the strengths and weaknesses of their team even before these types of conversations, and they would know that Respectful Communication is the key to gaining the best results. DCC’s Leadership Development programs are insightful, experiential, innovative, and most especially, they have and do work. Let’s talk about what you can learn from us today. Please email us at