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If I say NO to the work allotted, what will be repercussions?

Milind Kulkarni Nov 21, 2014

Team Insights value Creation

One of my mentees, very reluctantly, asked me this question recently and requested for help.

On further enquiry, he explained that he is at the middle point of his career. He takes care that his reputation or perception in the minds of his superiors and peers is not negatively affected which may hinder his future progress. On the other hand, he feels stressed and over-worked due to constant work pressure which is disturbing his work-life balance. His family is considerate and supportive but not very happy with the current situation. He has also started developing health problems off late.

Moreover, he hates himself since he is unable to say no to new work assignments due to fear of losing his carefully nurtured image of ‘cooperative, helpful, dedicated and resourceful’ colleague.

This is not his story alone. Many times we enslave ourselves in a self-woven web and start feeling helpless about the situation. So, if you are over-worked and unable to say no to new assignments coming your way, here are some tips for self-help:

  1. Prioritize the existing work assignments in hand and weigh it against the importance and urgency of new assignments. Seek further information by asking the right questions. Take a decision objectively.
  2. If your analysis indicates that it will be logical to say no to the new assignment, explain the reasons to the superiors/peers. Hear them out if they offer any better logic or help to. Be polite and avoid getting emotional about it.
  3. Avoid giving emotional responses or excuses like ‘it is not my work’ or ‘I do not have time’ or ‘why me always?’ etc. This may hurt others and tarnish your image.
  4. In business, people appreciate frankness and transparency which is the foundation of building long term credibility.
  5. Not saying no at the time of accepting the new assignment, not keeping the word and then giving reasons (excuses) is the worst thing you could do for your reputation.
  6. Do not feel guilty while saying no if you are objectively convinced about the same.

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