Just Say No: When To Turn Down Your Boss

October 2, 2012  |  

It’s tough to say “no” to your boss. But sometimes it’s necessary. Of course, you should usually try to accommodate the needs of your manager, but at other times it is actually more appropriate to refuse, says Susan Wilson Solovic, author of It’s Your Biz and CEO/co-founder of SBTV.com, small business TV network available on the Web. Why say no?  Because it is important to set boundaries — even with your boss.

“You should always say no to your boss when he or she is asking you to do something illegal or unethical. Otherwise, it’s difficult to refuse to do what your boss asks you to do. You may not always agree with the course of action he/she is taking, but that doesn’t give you the latitude to outright refuse to do the work,” Solovic tells us.

It is also okay to turn down an unreasonable request. Imagine your boss asks you to finish a report in too short a period of time. In order to do a good job at the task at hand, you will need to tell your boss you can’t meet his deadline. But explain your reasons and ask for more time, advises MSN Careers.

Bosses like people who disagree with them because many feel as though a healthy debate is a good way to come to the best conclusion,” Solovic points out. “But the boss is the captain of the ship and once his/her decision has been made, saying no may be viewed as insubordination and could ultimately cost you your job. So it’s important to understand when the line has been drawn in the sand. Choose your battles wisely.”

Keep calm when saying no. “It’s important (and wise) not to get emotional or angry,” suggests Solovic.

The best way to say no to your boss, according to Solovic:

1)    Against the law: If your boss is asking you to do something you believe is illegal or unethical, then you must be confident enough to explain your reasoning. Back up your position with factual information such as an employee handbook or a copy of a particular law. Under the circumstances, you should inform him/her that you plan to report the request.

2)    Impossible overtime: If you boss asks to you to come in over the weekend to finish a project but your daughter is playing in her first regional volleyball tournament, then explain your situation and offer to stay late the following week to ensure the work is completed.

3)    Above your pay grade: Sometimes you can say no to your boss when you feel the work is out of the scope of your responsibilities and expertise. Once again, make sure you are prepared to completely explain your rationale. You don’t want to be viewed as someone who isn’t a team player.

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