Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.
Celebrating 25 years in business! CPD Member - The CPD Certification Service ilm Recognised Provider

How to Politely Say 'No' to your Boss

How to Politely Say 'No' to Your Boss

How to Politely Say 'No' to Your Boss

It is important to be able to say 'no', to bosses.

Bosses tend to delegate tasks without reference to the amount of work already being attempted.

If we don't learn how to say 'no', then we are swamped by too much work. Consequently, we either fail the task, or we end up taking it home and working late into the night.

The right way to say No.

When you want to say 'No' to your supervisor or manager, then you need to do it in the right way:

  • Be clear: "I am sorry: It is not possible".
  • Give reasons: "Because right now I must finish this more important (named) task."
  • Be positive. "If the situation changes, I will get back to you immediately"

At all costs, we must avoid sounding unhelpful or unwilling.

To be successful, we must be Clear, Rational and Positive.

Be Clear

Our message must be definite and unambiguous. If we say, "I will try to do it, but I can't guarantee that I will be able to do it today", then the boss will give us the job and our attempt at refusal fails.

To be clear we must say something like. "I am sorry, but it is not possible."

Be Rational

We must give good reasons WHY we cannot do the task. The reason is that we do not have the time, or that other tasks already on our list are more important, (or both).

Be Positive

We should assure our boss that if the situation changes, we will inform them, immediately.

Saying 'No' In Practice.

When we put these three principles together, they sound like this:

Boss: "I need you to pick-up a visitor from the train station this afternoon, at three. Would you do that for me?"

We say: "I am sorry, *boss name*, but it is not possible for me to do that." (Clarity)

"Because I must complete and submit this British Gas proposal before 5pm today. It is worth £100K. If the proposal is late, we won't win the business." (Reason)."

"If the situation changes, I will inform you, immediately." (Positive).

Communication Skills Training

Our Communication Skills Training course is perfect for anyone wishing to improve their communication skills and gain confidence in dealing with other people.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Further Reading in Communication - Clear Communication

  • What are the Factors of Effective Communication?
    Being able to communicate effectively is vital to achieving your goals, as well as fostering good working relationships with colleagues. Great communication at work will benefit the sharing of creative ideas and problem solving.
    Read Article >
  • How to give feedback
    People are very quick to give negative feedback, but it is even more important to communicate positive feedback. Correctly given, positive feedback can be much more effective in getting people to change their behaviour or attitude.
    Read Article >
  • Good Communication
    Good Communication At work, in order to become a more effective communicator, you need to develop three qualities: 1. Clarity: Everyone should be able to fully understand what you mean, even if they don't agree with you. Remember that misunderstandings will cause problems. Clarity is your main communication goal. 2. Rationality...
    Read Article >
  • Muhammad Ali: The Greatest Speaker in the World.
    Muhammad Ali was gifted. Gifted as a sportsman, as a speaker, as a writer, as a poet and as a politician.
    Read Article >
  • Four Steps to Improve Your Communication Skills
    The ability to communicate well is a vital life skill. In business, being able to communicate your goals to others, clearly, logically and specifically is vital if you are are to succeed.
    Read Article >

Looking for Communication Skills Training?

If you're looking to develop your Clear Communication Skills, you may find this Communication Skills Training Course beneficial:

Open Training Course Pricing and Availability

5 December
Online - Teams
£475 +VAT
8 December
Birmingham Jurys Inn
£475 +VAT
12 December
London - Central
£475 +VAT
23 January
Online - Teams
£475 +VAT
More dates and locations available
Save £50 on this course

Next Open Course Starts in 4 days, Online - Teams, places available Book Now >