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No matter how much you aim to please your boss, there will be times during your career that you just want to say “no” to a task or project. You may have far too many deadlines in front of you or simply don’t have the ability to complete the assignment. And, while it’s completely acceptable to decline an assignment at times, learning how to say “no” to your boss with tact and professionalism is key. The trick is to get your point across without actually using the word “no.” Here are some examples of scenarios that may occur and how you can handle them in communicating with your boss.

You Don’t Have Capacity in Your Schedule

Saying you “don’t have time” to complete a task may make you appear unable tot multitask or get things done in a timely fashion. When faced with too many projects at once, ask your boss for feedback about how to prioritize your assignments to ensure you complete the most important ones first. With this approach, you’ll remind your boss about everything you have on your plate and learn what other things on your list can be de-prioritized for the time being.

You Don’t Agree with the Strategy

If you’re in disagreement with the execution or overall idea your boss is presenting to you, it may be tempting to voice your opinion right away. However, rather than expressing outright disapproval, try politely offering another idea in its place. If your boss still insists on the original strategy, explain your reservations or concerns with moving forward. If your boss respects your opinion, he or she will hopefully meet you in the middle with a solution you both can agree upon.

You Simply Don’t Want to Do It

While unappealing or odd job tasks are part of many employees’ roles, it may be time to speak up if you’re constantly asked to do things outside the scope of your job. Rather than reject the assignment right off the bat, explain to your boss that completing the task will take valuable time away from your other projects. If you still feel like you’re being taken advantage of, bring up your concerns during your next evaluation.

Being mindful about how you communicate in these types of situations will earn you your boss’s respect and help you both find feasible solutions for getting things done. Rather than get defensive, remember to keep your cool and remain open-minded!

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