How to Say No to the Boss When You’ve Always Said Yes

You’re trapped if you can’t say no to the boss.

My first no.

The first time I said no to my boss was a painful moment of clarity. I wanted to be the go-to person. If she asked me to do something, I did it.

I said yes to the point of intolerable frustration. I lost confidence that I could succeed. I told my boss that I wanted a specific responsibility removed from my job description. It was non negotiable.

She told me that it might impact my salary. We met several times. I refused to back-down, even though she tried to convince me otherwise.

I was willing to lose pay and my job. I didn’t lose either.

Courage to say no.

The courage to say no comes from knowing who your are and where you want to go.

It’s great when bosses and co-workers share commitments to each other’s success. But don’t sacrifice your potential on the altar of martyrdom.

Leaders worth following want you to succeed, even if it means you leave.

Don’t sacrifice your dream to help others achieve theirs. 

You are responsible for your own success.

7 tips for saying no to the boss:

  1. Beware the ‘no’ life. ‘No’ on it’s own leads nowhere.
  2. Be known for saying yes. Go-to people say yes. But a career without ‘no’ grows unfocused and intolerable.
  3. Focus on relationships. Strong relationships are the foundation for saying no. 
  4. ‘No’ is most useful when it enables ‘yes’. Tenaciously focus on things you want to achieve.
  5. Design alternatives, when saying no.
  6. Discuss projects, workload, and achievements with your boss regularly. Don’t wait until you feel trapped to say no. (This was my big mistake.)
  7. Push yourself. Don’t use’no’ as a means of personal comfort that limits opportunity, meaning, and fulfillment.

How might people learn to say no to bosses?

What do you do when you need to say no to a person over you?