Things You Can Always Refuse to Do at Work

It is probably difficult to say “no” to your boss. You work for the company, so you probably assume that you are supposed to do everything that you are told to do.

However, this is not always the case. There are some instances when you can (and should) say “no” at work and not feel bad about it. Additionally, by saying “no” to some of these things, you may make a positive impression on your boss and make an improvement for your company.

Here are nine things that you can and should say “no” to at work.

1. Doing pointless tasks.

Just because your company has always done something a certain way doesn’t mean that they aren’t ready for you to come in and switch it up– updating their system to a more effective way of doing things. Doing pointless or ineffective assignments isn’t only expensive for your company, but it can also be harmful to your work.

2. Tasks that have nothing to do with your job.

You should know exactly what is expected of you and be clear on your long term goals at work. If you are asked to do something that really has nothing to do with you or your role in the company, do not be afraid to say “no”.

3. Attending pointless meetings.

Studies have shown that attending meetings often keeps employees from getting their work done. Additionally, many employees agree that the bulk of their meetings are both inefficient and unproductive, which simply wastes company time.

4. Responding to emails when you are not at work.

We all know that work is an important part of life, but it is also important to maintain a social life and spend time with your family. Create boundaries that clarify when work ends and your personal life begins. Formal boundaries have even started to be implemented around the world, such as New York City’s proposed ban to disable instant messages and email after working hours.

5. Assignments that go against your values.

This could easily vary depending on the nature of your job, but if you are assigned a task that you are really not comfortable with on a personal level, refuse to do it or suggest doing it in a different way. Don’t compromise yourself and your values for your job.

6. Short deadlines on unimportant projects.

There is a big difference between requesting that employees are sensitive about time on a project and demanding a project to be finished before it is really even possible. In the same vein, you should not agree to do projects that you can’t finish on time because this will reflect poorly on your work performance. Instead, spend some time figuring out whether the proposed project is feasible for you to work on given the things that you already have going on.

7. Writing a reference for someone you do not believe in.

If someone asks you to write a reference for them and you don’t have complete confidence in their work, it is better to politely decline. While you may need to provide working dates for a previous employee to their prospective employer, you do not need to give a personal reference regarding their job performance.

8. Even more extra work.

If you have already taken on more work than your job really requires, do not feel like you have to say yes to additional projects that come in. This will make the quality of all of your work suffer and that will likely be apparent in the end product. Only take on the amount of work that you can reasonably handle at one time.

9. Work that is beyond your competencies.

If you are given a project that you know you will not be able to do justice, pass it along to the person who you think it would be more suitable for. Realizing that you may not be the best person to do something is actually going to be helpful for everyone in the end.

Saying “no” is often important when you are a working professional. Clearly state your reasoning when you refuse to do a task and offer an alternative solution if you can. This will keep you from sacrificing the quality of your work and it will set correct expectations for your coworkers.

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