Crowdsourcing Solutions

How to Say No To Your Boss Politely at Work – 25 Best Tips


Boss is always right “– this is a common phrase that has been doing the rounds for time immemorial.

But, we all know that it is not right. If you are working in the office, then you will know that more often than not, your bosses are always wrong when they are asking you for any personal favor.

You are working for the company, but your boss feels that he owns you, and can order you to complete his household chores anytime.

It might happen that the first time when he asked you to do something for him you obliged, thinking that it will earn you a brownie point, but when it becomes a habit, then you are in a fix.

Now you are not able to say no to your boss directly and neither you are willing to do the job that he is requesting.

If your boss is asking you to like his photos on the social networking sites, then it seems to be quite an innocent request

accepting which is not that big deal, but when these small requests take the shape of orders, then it is hard to swallow down.

You are not alone in this situation because you will find many who have been finding it hard to come up with a soft but a firm ‘No‘ which will make their boss understand that you are not there to entertain their personal requests instead you are working in the company the same way as your boss does.
How to say no to your boss politely

30 Best Ways to Say No To your Boss Respectfully:

To help all of you out there who have been facing this serious issue of not being able to say No, here are 25 tips that will help you say no politely.

1. Explaining the situation while saying ‘No’ 

When you are not willing to entertain the personal request of your boss, then you will have to put your foot down and convey the message to your boss politely.

So, how to go about with this process?

It is not that difficult instead of coming up with something like ”I’m sorry I won’t be able to do that”; you can tell him that you have some deadlines to meet and if you get busy completing your boss’s personal commitments, then the professional commitments will get hampered.

When you will explain the situation he will definitely understand that the professional commitments always come first.

2. Compensating productivity:

You are not a robot that you will be able to take up any amount of workload and finish it off in a jiffy.

So, you must know your limit and convey it to your boss accordingly. If you do not do so and keep quiet, then he would get the idea that you will be able to complete the work.

Therefore, you must be very clear about this and make your boss understand that you can only work this much and if he continues to put more pressure, then you won’t be able to concentrate on the job and that means the productivity will get hampered.

You have to make your boss understand that quality will get hampered if he is looking for quantity.

When you are showing your boss good results with a ‘No’, then you must not worry about getting negative impact. It all depends on how you put your No across to your boss.

3. Boss’s perception:

It is not always about the personal request that the boss makes, sometimes, your boss wants you to take that extra burden of work so that the work gets completed within the deadline.

So, before you come up with a refusal you can just think of the Boss’s perception once. It will provide you with a good enough reason to say no politely.

If there is a meeting which can be rescheduled and that will in turn save money flowing out of the boss’s pocket, then he will definitely understand it and will also appreciate your concern.

4. Know your strengths and work accordingly:

know your strengths and work accordingly

There is no need to loiter around to say a No to your boss because if you do not know how to say no, then get ready to get overloaded with work.

You have to know when to say No to perform better and up to your strengths. You cannot just take up every kind of work and do it perfectly.

You must be aware of your strengths. Some are very good with numbers, whereas some are creative people, therefore, if the creative person is asked to complete the number game, then it is obvious that he will not be able to perform well.

That is the reason he needs to come out in the open to discuss his strengths with his boss so that his boss understands that he is not cut out for that part of the job.

In this scenario, it is very important to say No otherwise the work will get affected as well and it will affect your career development as well.

5. Let your boss know your boundaries:

It is difficult to say No to your boss, but if you can come up with an explanation which is worthy enough, then your boss will surely buy that.

If there is something that you are uncomfortable in doing, then you must state it in a firm but soft manner.

You can come up with something like ‘I am really sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be comfortable enough to do this job because …..’ and then state whatever your reasons are.

It might happen that your boss is asking you to do something which is against your principles that you have in life, then you can explain that to him.

6. Platter already full, share it with the boss:

Talk to your boss

Now you are already working on three projects and your boss has come up with another one.

You don’t know how to manage so many things all at once. Ask your boss to give you an idea about how to work on different project simultaneously.

When he is prioritizing your work, then he will be accountable for the projects that don’t get completed within time.

In this way you are saying no in disguise and your boss will also know that you have a handful of work already and some extra work will mean extra burden for you.

7. Compare the reasons before saying No:

It is always better to compare your reasons with the request that your boss has made.

If you feel that the request is an infringement on your rights as an individual or your cultural beliefs, then you need to make your boss understand that he is pushing the envelope too far.

If it is something that you do not like to do, then also you need to see whether the request that has been made is legitimate or not and falls under your job description or not.

When you will evaluate the request first, you will be able to come up with better reasons for saying no.

8. Looking into other viable options:

In case your boss has appointed a task that you don’t have prior experience, then instead of saying no straight away, suggest your boss a name of your colleague who is good at that.

This way your helpful nature will be portrayed in front of your boss. You can always suggest some other option in case you are not able to work through the weekend due to some personal commitment as well.

Rather than working forcibly where you won’t be able to give your best shot, it is better to suggest someone’s name, which will be able to give it their best shot.

9. Establish a transparent relation with your boss:

Maintain a transparent relation with your boss

You must not hide anything from your boss instead tell him clearly what you feel. This will make your boss understand that you are open to communication and he will be more than happy to carry on an honest conversation with you.

When you have a good and healthy relationship with your boss, then it will be easier for you to come up with a no that will not hurt your boss.

10. Don’t wait until the last moment to say no:

When you know that you would be saying no to that work then don’t wait for the last moment.

If you do that it will put you in the bad light, therefore, it is better to come up with an answer right away.

This way your boss will have enough time to look for an alternative or you can suggest an alternative name yourself.

11. Honesty won’t embarrass:

If you are lying to get away from the situation, then you must keep in mind that if your boss finds out that you are lying, it will lead to loss of the trust that he has for you and will hamper your career in the long run.

It is hard to acquire the confidence of your boss and you surely won’t want to lose it. Therefore, it is better to come up with the genuine reason and it is most likely that your boss will understand.

12. Know what your boss wants:

know what your boss wants

There are some bosses who love people who are yes person and then there are some who loves people who can come up with their thoughts straight away.

So you have to know your boss well to come up with a reply.

If your boss is a person who loves to have people around them who can think on their own and is confident enough to take firm decisions, then you will find it easy to say no rather than saying a yes to everything he suggests.

13. Think about your health:

If you are just out of a big surgery, then your boss cannot expect you to handle the same workload.

If he does, then you must give him a reality check about your health condition. No one can make your work at the cost of your health.

14. How to bell the cat:

You might read about thousands of points about how to say no to your boss, but the main thing is that if you do not possess enough courage, then all these knowledge will of no use at all.

When you are saying no to some work responsibility, then it must not happen that you do not want to work instead you must be only saying no when it crosses the certain reservations that you have.

15. Check the tone:

When you are saying No to your boss, then you must not sound rude instead make sure you have full control over your emotions.

Even if you feel like killing your boss at that moment, but must not let your boss know what you feel instead he must know that you are only voicing your prohibitions.

16. Make it clear from the word go:

You won’t get into the situation where you have to say no if you set the expectation clear right away.

You can tell your boss that you won’t be working after 8 pm because of your personal commitments and also that you would have to leave office early in case you have enrolled yourself for some classes.

This will make your boss know what to expect out of you, but make sure that you work hard enough the rest of the time, so that your boss knows that you are competent enough and has the ability to balance both the professional and personal world.

17. Have a conversation:

Have a conversation with your boss

When you are getting overloaded with work, then you have to set up a meeting with your boss and have a heart to heart talk with him and let him know that it is becoming very difficult for you to work efficiently because quantity is binding you down.

If he is a good manager, then he will understand and take care of your work load.

18. Buy some time before coming up with a reply:

It is always better to buy some time before coming up with a no. You can always tell them that you will get back to them with your reply.

This will give you some time to think about the request that your boss has made and how relevant it is, then taking into consideration the pros and cons of a denial you can let them know that you won’t be able to perform the work that you have been assigned.

While doing this you must always keep in mind that you don’t have all the time in the world to think on the matter, come up with your reply soon.

19. Not the right project:

Compliment the work that you have been assigned but make them aware that you don’t have enough qualification to carry on with that responsibility.

It is better to let go some projects which you do not have any idea about rather than taking up the project and failing to complete it successfully.

20. Say yes first to set the ground:

Don’t decline everything that you have been asked to do as this will show you in a bad light. Instead be upright in saying yes when it comes to taking some extra burden. This will create you a perfect platform for saying a valid no.

So when you will decline any project or work, then your boss will understand that you really won’t be able to perform the job otherwise you wouldn’t have said ‘no’.

21. The Client is the key:

If the client has some work for you, then your boss needs to wait.

Therefore, if you have too much work load that the client wants you to finish off then make your boss understand that you have your handful with the work that the client has assigned and you will see that your boss won’t be interfering any more.

22. Get into the good book of the ones who are close to the boss:

Befriend someone who is close to the boss

It is a sure shot winner. If you can befriend someone who is really close with your boss, then you won’t have to say no to your boss directly, instead you can share your worries with this person and he will take the onus on himself to solve the problem of yours.

23. Make a declaration:

If you see the work coming your way, then let the boss and everybody know that you are already booked up for the whole week and it would be impossible for you to entertain any new requests.

This way you will stop the request coming your way beforehand.

24. Turn the table around:

This is something which you will have to master in case you want your boss to do the job that he was thinking of assigning you.

You have to be very good with your words so that you can make him feel good about the job he does and how he can manage so many things on his own without letting him know that you are tricking him.

25. Uncomfortable silence:

Be silent while your boss is ranting on you Sometimes silence does the job which words cannot. May be that is the reason it is said that Silence is golden.


When your boss is ranting down his thoughts you can keep mum and even when, after blaming you so much he doesn’t get a reply he would come up with an explanation all by himself saying that he knows that you are already burdened with many responsibilities. It is at this point that your boss will suggest a way out himself.