Ways to Say No To Overbearing Bosses
Over-Demanding Bosses, Disconcerted Office
Sometimes demands from the management level may come across as overbearing or not making any sense. They may force you into doing work against your will from time to time. At times, being forced to do too much work against your will puts too much strain on your relationship between you and your bosses.
It does not have to be that way. From the good old negotiate with your bosses to working out solutions together, here are several ways to reject your bosses’ requests. Read on to find out how you can say no to your bosses without looking like kids fighting in the playground.
Be honest with your managers and bosses. When they come to you with requests, be it last minute or tasks completely out of your power to tackle, candidly tell them you are unable to do it. Explain if you have to, but be honest and straightforward.
You may have been paid to do your work, but it does not mean you have to give in to every request they give you. Think about it from a professional angle. If you are given work that is beyond your talent or power level to give your 110%, you may not produce a top quality piece of work.
Think of your other projects too. Your other projects and tasks at hand may suffer – deadlines, quality, and all. Explain your reason for rejection (if you did) and the consequences that come with it. Some tasks or projects given are redundant and don’t contribute to your goals and responsibilities anyway.
It’s okay to say no, as long as you have a perfect reason to reject the work load. After all, it’s about professionalism in the work place.
2. Evaluate The Request
Before you straight-up reject the work request, assess it first. It don’t usually take long to gage whether you can tackle it or not. Sometimes you may be the only person who is able to do the task. If so, you can delegate your other lesser tasks to your other colleagues or subordinates.
This is not about saying yes to the request regardless of what tasks are offered. By ‘evaluating the request’, it meant for you to think of the scale and scope of the tasks.
Is the tasks within your job scope? Are you able to handle it? Is it a big tasks? If yes, are there anyone else in the office who can share the workload with you? Break the project to smaller tasks and delegate it to your colleagues and subordinates where you can. You need not suffer alone.
“Think about what’s on your plate, whether priorities can be shuffled, or whether a colleague could step in to assist you [on your other projects],” says Karen Dillon, co-author of How Will You Measure Your Life. “Don’t say no until you’re sure you need to.”
3. Suggest an alternative
Keeping in mind you can assess the workload given to you before accepting it, remember that you can offer a substitute solution. Bosses don’t like people who say no upfront as, to them, they believe they paid you so you must do whatever they throw at you. Nope, again, it does not have to be that way.
Instead of saying no, offer other options. Bosses like problem-solvers, so be one. If you are not already a problem-solver, learn to be one as the skill can be useful in the near future. For example, in point two (2) we talked of delegating tasks to your colleagues or subordinates. You can suggest how you can take part of the project to work on, and suggest your boss to delegate the rest to people who are able to do it.
Work with your boss as a team. Or at least try to, even if your bosses and you have clashing opinions. Work is work.
4. Ask for “thinking period” before giving your bosses a final decision
People often quickly say yes to the tasks before thinking whether they can handle it or not. This can be risky in a sense you may not be able to handle the job up to standard. See point one (1). Again, think from a professional point of view.
The “thinking period” is for you to gain leverage over whether you can produce a top piece of work for the project. Thoroughly digest the workload, the job scope, everything and anything that needs to be assessed. If it’s a yes, good on you. If it’s a no…refer back to the previous points given.
As mentioned earlier, provide alternatives for your bosses. Show them you care and that you are a problem-solver. Turn this into a win-win situation for both parties. It does not have to end in a bitter argument for both of you.
5. Be firm, but don’t be too easy
Some bosses may not take ‘no’ very well, so be prepared for any kinds of lash backs.
Here is what you can do if your boss cannot take no for an answer. First and foremost, do not get into a power struggle. To avoid this, don’t voice out strong opinions. Basically, try avoiding voicing out opinions as it may not translate well with some people.
Find a middle ground where you both can work together towards your goals. Recognise you both have the same goals in due course. Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations, says, “Members of the military say to salute the flag before you disagree with a senior officer.”
It’s the same in the office. Your mutual purpose in work is to serve, and to accomplish goals. Try to stay on neutral grounds as much as you can. A power struggle can get ugly sometimes.
6. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it
Your bosses may mean well when they delegate the tasks to you for myriads of reason. When you reject their projects they get angry for no valid reasons. Although your bosses seem like the kinds who will never get angry.
Think back how you say it to your bosses. Maybe it’s not what you say, maybe it’s the way you say it. Your “no” may sound condescending or without care. Maybe it’s your body language and your facial expression. That eye-rolling, that face of disgust you pull. Those spells out and builds up unwanted tension between you and your bosses. Try to avoid this at all cost!
It helps to smile sometimes. If you can’t, then avoid giving constipated looks to your bosses. No one likes seeing that. The worst you can do is to maintain a neutral facial expression and body language. Don’t raise your voice as it may spell out a recipe for a catfight between you both. Be professional!
In conclusion, regardless of what ridiculous requests you are getting from your bosses, try to communicate. Whether your bosses are willing to comply and work with you towards both your goals, that’s a different story. Remember to try to maintain a positive relationship between you and your bosses. Your office is literally the 2nd location where you spent most of your time besides your home. Surely you won’t want to live with bad bosses in a sour environment. That would be a living hell.