A Career Hackers’ Classic, read the full post here.

Do you feel like you’re always that person who feels they have to say “no” to everything, all the time, and it’s affecting the way you function in a workplace? Let us tell you first of all – it’s absolutely valid to say “no”. There are times when it is essential to do so. Be it declining a request or idea, turning down an unrealistic favor, or declining your boss when he asks you to put in extra hours beyond your pay grade.

But it is important to phrase your wishes diplomatically to maintain positive relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and clients. Here are four kinds of people you may need to decline at work and some tactful ways to do it:

To Your Boss

When your boss asks you to do something, it can feel overwhelming to refuse. Instead of responding with a blunt “no” or a passive-aggressive excuse, you can try explaining that you have a lot on your plate and may not have the bandwidth to take on more tasks.

This way, you are expressing your limitations without coming across as uncooperative or hostile.

To Your Co-Worker

Your colleague asks for your help on a project that you don’t have much knowledge or interest in. In this scenario, you should consider helping if you have the time because it can improve your relationship with them and show that you’re willing to lend a hand. However, if you’re not interested in helping, avoid making a false excuse about being too busy and risk your colleague figuring out that you lied.

Instead, be honest about why you can’t help. For example, you can say something like, “Thanks for asking, but I’m not the best fit for this project since I don’t have much experience with social media. I wouldn’t be able to contribute much.”

To Your Employee

Encouraging brainstorming and new ideas from your employees is important, but sometimes as a boss, you may already have a clear plan in mind and would prefer your employees to execute and follow it.

In such situations, you should convey that while you value employee input, there are times when it’s crucial to follow a specific plan. It’s important to explain why and offer an explanation so it doesn’t come across as stubbornness.

An excellent way to approach this is to thank your employee for their suggestions and explain that for this particular project, it’s crucial to follow the outlined directions to meet the deadline. It’s also important to encourage employees to ask questions or seek clarification.

To Your Client

You want to avoid being condescending to your client who is, essentially, paying for your services. Even though you were hired for your expertise, the client has a say in the direction of the project. Listen for any key concerns or issues that they are trying to address.

When you respond, focus on how your plan addresses those concerns, rather than shutting down the client’s idea. This way, you show respect for the client’s input while offering your professional opinion.

By communicating honestly and respectfully, it is possible to maintain a positive work environment while still declining requests or ideas.

A Powerful Excerpt from the Blog

“No one wants to be known as the person who always declines. Because after a while, people will stop asking you for things (like joining the really cool, exciting, important opportunities). So, instead, aim to be known for the considerate way in which you express yourself—even in tough conversations.”

The Muse is a New York City-based online career platform. The Muse creates in-depth profiles of companies seeking top talent, showcasing their brand through behind-the-scenes videos of the office and team culture, interviews with employees, and current job openings.

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