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How to Say No to Your Boss

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How to Say No to Your Boss

Ask a Manager podcast

Ask a Manager,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Saying no to your manager needn’t be as daunting as you might fear.

Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples
  • Inspiring


There’s a stigma to saying no at work. Employees fear portrayal as a “prima donna” or “not a team player.” They may be afraid that their bosses will overlook them for future projects and promotions – or that it will produce resentment. Yet, turning down your supervisor’s request can actually result in a solution that works well for everyone. Look to consultant and Ask a Manager founder Alison Green for workable ways to say no to your boss.


Saying no to your boss doesn’t have to be adversarial. Being selective about your battles and framing your rejection in a direct but collaborative way are critical tactics. Whether your boss is asking for you to do personal errands, or take on more tasks than you can handle, you can politely decline by explaining the background to your reluctance and offering an alternative. Bosses who lead teams generally don’t want good workers feeling unhappy. Also, managers don’t always know the full context of a situation when they assign projects. ...

About the Podcast

Alison Green is a consultant and founder of a popular career blog that evolved into columns for Slate and New York, as well as a book. For her Ask a Manager podcast — a partnership with HowStuffWorks — she takes calls and helps listeners deal with their work predicaments. 

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