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How do you say no to your boss?

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Category: General
Forum Name: Work, Work, Work
Forum Description: Job & Career Related Musings
Printed Date: June 13 2021 at 11:41pm

Topic: How do you say no to your boss?
Posted By: SuperGrover
Subject: How do you say no to your boss?
Date Posted: August 06 2003 at 2:15pm
Every once in awhile, my boss will ask me to do something that is just physically not possible. Like for example, she asked me to do a small project on a Friday afternoon at 4pm. She wanted it done by the end of the day.

Now, if it really did have to get done ASAP, I would have been happy to oblige. But the fact of the matter was that the project didn't need to be finished for 3 weeks. She was just feeling overwhelmed and wanted this one part DONE. Which I can understand, but...

It was physically impossible to have it done that day. We didn't have the necessary supplies and they would have to be shipped in. At that late hour, Monday delivery probably wouldn't have even been possible!

I tried to tell her not to worry, I would take care of it next week. But she wasn't down with that.

What should I have done? She ended up taking the project back from me with a "fine... I'LL do it then." attitude. But in the end, I did end up doing it, of course. What do you do in these cases?

"Hair is a part of you. It is not a part of me, because I am a frog." - Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street1b/N/ii ~ ??"/27"/32"

Posted By: tina m
Date Posted: August 06 2003 at 10:23pm
She sounds like an unreasonable boss, either out of touch with the real working conditions, or worse yet, a very arrogant person on a power trip.

How bad to you need your job? Can you find another one just as good?
If you try to reason with her, in a polite way, and she still gives you a bad tiime, I would start looking around for other work, -(while retaining your present job of course)-.
If she won't be reasonable, even when you ask her nicely, well,... then you only have two choices; find other work or put up with her garbage.

I know it is a bad economy right now with quite a bit of unemployment, so I know you have a difficult situation.

Most of my bosses have been good. On the rare occasion they have not been fair with me, I grabbed onto another job as soon as I had the chance!

Good luck SG!


Posted By: SuperGrover
Date Posted: August 07 2003 at 10:39am
Thanks, Tina.

No, that's not the problem at all. I love my boss, she's great. I really like my job, too.

This was just an isolated incident that ironed itself out over a few weeks' time. I guess I handled it in an OK way. There don't seem to be any ill after-effects of the way I handled it. :)

It seemed awkward at the time though. Probably because I used to work at Disney where we're taught to never say no to anyone.

"Hair is a part of you. It is not a part of me, because I am a frog." - Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street1b/N/ii ~ ??"/27"/32"

Posted By: demodoll
Date Posted: August 07 2003 at 11:32am
I would have a real hard time telling my boss no. She generally isn't terribly unreasonable but occasionally something comes up that will require overtime and stuff or travel (which is harder for me with kids, etc.). Since I work at home, due mainly to her generosity, I try to do EVERYTHING she wants and do it well so that I can keep doing this. Sometimes bosses do get overwhelmed and expect too much but I have found that most will back off when they are approached (maybe at a different time) about unreasonable requests. If they cannot be approached, looking for something else might be in order. I jumped around for years before taking this job 18 years ago. I would hate to have to start doing that again. I have found it difficult to get that balance (between work and personal life) in a job and this one is great for me.

"It is better to look marvelous than to feel marvelous" Billy Crystal

Posted By: uzma
Date Posted: August 07 2003 at 12:03pm
Sounds like your boss was really stressed out and the behaviour she displayed with you is her stress response.
She needs to work on that (like a lot of us).

With my staff, I make it clear from the beginning that they must tell me when I am being unreasonable. If they don't challenge me and just agree to the impossible, then the team will fail.
Consequently, we are honest with each other and the girls keep me in line :-)
They know when I come to them with something that needs to be done with extreme urgency that it is genuine - and they pull out all the stops to deliver.

So I guess the answer to your question may be to get your boss on a good day, and calmly ask her how she would like you to respond to impossible / imaginary deadlines.
Also explain that she needs to be confident in delegating tasks to you.
Point out how you have never let her down (unless you have ).

Good luck, Traci.


Posted By: dianefromcanada
Date Posted: August 25 2003 at 6:24pm
Hello SuperGrover:

Sounds to me that your boss really thinks highly of you and for whatever reason she thought you could makes this thing happen.
ONe doesn't know what happen that day. Maybe someone threathen her contract.

I used to work in the film industry. Anyways my boss thought she had so many months to complete a huge project and for some reason one person she was dealing with misinformed her. Within a month she had another person come in and told her that if she didn't complete the project by a certain date she would lose over $10,000.00 Well you could imagine how she felt. Not only she had to complete the project way sooner than expected she had to redesign the whole concept and she ended up staying very late every night at the office. WE all felt the pressure and what I would suggest next time is to say Yes you will start and do your best and when the time comes to go home kindly let her know that all the parts are not in but at least you did start and that she will remember that you were very willing being part of her team.


Posted By: KingJames23
Date Posted: May 09 2005 at 1:28pm
make up an excuse

Posted By: Sharyg11
Date Posted: September 25 2005 at 12:04am
I hate to say this, but that is why I refuse to work with a female boss. That sounds terrible, being that I am female and a manager. But it is true. Women are very emotional, and take everything personal. And usually feel that because they are women they have to be tougher than men, otherwise people will not respect them. I thank God don't have that problem, and think I am a very reasonable boss. And I would never ask my employees to do anything I wouldn't like to, or be willing to do myself. I am usually the example, before asking for anybody else to do it. And I would never make an employee do something that wasn't immediatly necessary just because I am stressed out. My boss is a male, and hapily very nice, undestanding and easy going. And no, I don't have any problems telling him no. If I can't do it, It will have to wait until I can. However, I usually let them know how I am from the begining. Because once you get your boss used to doing what they want, when they want to, you can never change that. So I lay down the law from the begining. Don't get me wrong, when I have to work overtime, and hard, I do it. I've worked 15 hours in one day to help my boss (without him asking me) because he is a good boss and I would never let him sink. But that is only if necessary. My boss knows there is no harder worker than me. But he also knows I won't tolerate abuse or disrespect. If it can wait, it will.

Posted By: miamihair
Date Posted: October 01 2005 at 9:07am

I have a boss that is moody, some days he's great and in a great mood. And Others days he's just a demon possesed artists. 

I've decided to move on, and look for another job, he doesn't know yet.

Job will start in Nov. So I have to put up with dr. Jeckle mr. hyde  1 month and a little bit.

I will still work for him , but part time and when it doesn't interfere with positive career growth.

Working for male or a female, isn't the issue..........its the individual person


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