We all want to build successful careers.

Regardless of the industry we work in, we all want to be respected for being good at our jobs and considered a valuable team member. One way to build this respect is by establishing yourself as someone who can be counted on to execute when given a project, no matter the timeline.

However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of taking on too much work while trying to prove your dependability. You want to continue to prove your competence, and because you’re working efficiently, your boss continues to pile on new projects. This situation can actually hurt your productivity and lower the quality of all your projects.

But how do you say no at work without feeling guilty?

Although it may seem tough, saying no at the appropriate times can be beneficial to both you personally, and the organization as a whole. Honest communication, open discussion, and the ability to say no are all parts of effective team collaboration.

In the infographic below, we list out the best tips for politely saying no at work without feeling guilty.

Saying no at work is never easy.

However, you need to be able to properly set boundaries while also maintaining positive relationships with your managers and co-workers (after all, you don’t want them to hate you). To recap, you can follow these tips to navigate the awkward situations where you need to say no at work:

  • Communicate in person.
  • Be honest.
  • Offer an alternative.
  • Be calm and deliberate.
  • Ask for assistance with prioritization.
  • Reinforce your openness to help in the future.

Declining projects may make you feel guilty or like you’re missing an opportunity, but it’s absolutely necessary from time to time. Using these tips you can effectively say no at work for the betterment of yourself and your company.


Forbes (1, 2) | Harvard Business Review (1, 2) | The Next Web | Fortune | Fast Company | Entrepreneur | Just Be Real