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Appropriate Instances to Say "No" at Work

Speaking up and saying “no” at work can feel uncomfortable. However, there are some times when that is absolutely the appropriate response. Here are several instances when it’s a good idea to say “no”.


An unreasonable deadline

If you’ve been tasked with a project, and the deadline to complete it would be an impossible feat, let your manager know. You don’t want to be working on the project at the 11th hour only then to realize it’s unattainable. See if there is flexibility with the deadline, and if it’s something that must be done by a certain time, see if there are others that can help so you can work as a team to get it completed. Communication is key, so speak to your manager about the reasons why the deadline is unrealistic and together come up with a game plan.


You’re sick or on vacation

When you have access to your work emails on your phone, it’s easy to get sucked into work when you're on PTO. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, or staying home sick with a cold, set clear guidelines for your manager and co-workers about when they should communicate with you. You may choose to tell them to only contact you if it’s an urgent and very important matter that can’t wait until you return. Having your manager or co-workers email you about non-urgent matters (and answering those emails) can become a slippery slope. If you really do want to unplug, set clear guidelines and others will be respectful of your decision.


Asked to do something unethical 

If you are asked to do something unethical at work, think twice before agreeing. Be clear with your manager and let them know if it’s not something you’re comfortable doing. It may be uncomfortable, but sometimes you need to stand your ground if you’re asked to do something unethical or unsafe. If such requests are frequent at your job, it may be time to look elsewhere.


Asked to do something you’re unsure of

If you’re asked to work on something not in your wheelhouse, and you feel you wouldn’t be able to do a good job on the assignment, speak up! There is nothing wrong with spreading your wings a bit and learning something new, however, you also don’t want to sign up for something only to fail at it. So if you’re asked to do something not in your wheelhouse, let your manager know you’d like to help out, but that it’s beyond your area of expertise. Ask your manager if perhaps there is someone else at work better equipped for the job, or someone there that can teach you.


Appropriate Instances to Say "No" at Work

Common Email Phrases to Replace

We recently wrote a post on ways to sound more confident at work. We thought we’d expand more upon that and focus specifically on emailing and simple phrases you can replace to sound more confident, to the point, and allow less room for misinterpretation (which is a common complaint about some email messages). Here are our suggestions for ways to reframe common email phrases.



Instead of saying this

Try this


I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you


I look forward to your thoughts


Sorry to bother you with this


Just wanted to follow up


Shoot! Sorry I didn’t catch that


Per my last email


Let’s touch base


You should


I don’t know


Is that ok?


Thank you so much for your patience


I value your input


Thank you for your time


What is the status on...


Thanks for letting me know


Are you able to let me know about this by…


Are you available on Friday to chat?


I’d recommend…


Allow me to get back to you on that


Let me know if you have a different opinion



In addition to the suggestions above, some other ways to improve your communication via email are to remove hedge words. Hedge words are what we add to our sentences to soften our words and can make us sound less confident and sure of ourselves. Some examples of hedge words include: may, possibly, nearly, might, perhaps, etc. While there is a time and a place to be tentative with your words, usually you’ll want to nix such words to come across sure of yourself and what you are presenting. When it comes to email, it’s best to remove the fluff and get straight to the point.



Common Email Phrases to Replace

How to be a Better Communicator

Some people are born great communicators. They can walk into a room (or a board meeting) and instantly command the room with their words. They are engaging, present, and purposeful when communicating with others. For some of us though, this doesn’t come easily. The good news is it just takes some preparation and practice to develop those skills. Here are some tips, for those of us for whom it doesn’t come naturally, on how to be a better communicator.


Be Present and Show up

Being a good communicator involves both being a good speaker and a good listener. To do the latter you must be present. During your next meeting, instead of multitasking or letting your mind drift off, stay focused on the meeting and pay attention. Don’t go into a conversation with the sole purpose of presenting your points, but instead listen to the conversation and incorporate your points into your responses.


Let Go of Perfectionism

If you don’t speak out for fear of saying something wrong, you’ll never learn how to be a good communicator. In an article on Inc., the author suggests reframing your thoughts to let go of perfectionism. “Your message, your mission, and your work are what matters. And if you're stuck in a perfectionistic cycle, consider the other person's needs rather than staying stuck in your internal negative dialogue.”



If you are leading a meeting or presentation, it’s always a good idea to prepare ahead of time and practice the main points you’d like to convey. Think about the overall goal and the outcome you’d like and put your attention towards that instead of worrying about saying the exact right thing. By focusing on your objectives, it will help shape your communication style and lead to a more impactful speech.


Be Mindful of Body Language

Sometimes it’s what you don’t say, but what your body language portrays, that can also make you a more effective communicator. Are you seated or standing upright, or slouched over? Are your arms crossed, or relaxed by your side? You want to project openness and confidence; it’s important to be mindful of your body language and expressions.


How to be a Better Communicator

Returning to Work After a Long Weekend or Vacation

Returning to work after a long weekend or vacation always feels like a bit of a chore. You’re still in vacation mode and it can feel like a harsh reality to try and get back into the swing of things right away. If you’re struggling with the shock of returning to work, here are a few things to help you adjust back to work life.


Focus on your objectives for the day

It can be helpful to create a to-do list with 3 non-negotiable items listed that you need to accomplish that day and several more things you’d like to get done. By having clear goals and the important tasks prioritized, you’ll feel more organized and focused. Work on completing one task at a time before moving onto the next. This will help accomplish completing your to-do list with intent and direction.


Purge your inbox

After a long weekend or vacation, you’ll need to tackle your inbox that’s likely filled with spam emails, messages you were CC’d on, etc. If that’s the case, sort your mail by sender vs. when you received it, that way you can go through the emails and focus first on the ones that you’ll need to address from colleagues, prospects, and your boss. Anything that’s not relevant, such as spam and junk mail, simply select all and delete.


Schedule wisely

Upon returning to the office, try your best not to have a lot of meetings or calls scheduled the first couple of days. You want to use that first day or two instead addressing your inbox and tasks you need to get caught up on.


Give yourself time

If you’re returning back to work after a vacation, allow yourself some time to get caught up. It’s inevitable that you’ll have a lot to do, so take a deep breath and tackle each item one step at a time. By staying focused on your top objectives and prioritizing the most important tasks first, you will get caught up in a timely manner; take it one day at a time.


Returning to Work After a Long Weekend or Vacation

Working Remotely Post Covid

The pandemic forced many employees, who previously had no experience working remotely, to say goodbye to their cubicles and hello to their home office. Now, with many employees returning back to the office, some may find themselves in the position of wanting to continue working remotely even after the pandemic is over (at least part-time). If you are someone who enjoys working from home and wants to continue, here are several things you’ll want to consider when the company has employees returning back to the office.


What Exactly Do You Want?

Write down the pros and cons of working remotely. For example, pros being things such as not having to commute to the office or even saving on dry cleaning bills, and cons being not having in-person interactions with your co-workers or the possibility of struggling with work/life balance. Reflect on what type of schedule you’d like before moving onto step two that way you have talking points to bring up to your manager when discussing the future of your work situation.


Be Flexible

Work with your company and manager on their expectations and see if you can reach a middle-ground. Communicate with your manager on what works best for you and the company and see if will allow you to remain working remotely, either full-time or part-time. You don’t need to come up with a plan for the rest of your career, but instead, just put together a game plan for the next several months and then re-evaluate again at that point to see if anything has changed.


Stay Connected

If you can continue working remotely (either part-time or full-time) you must remain connected to your co-workers and manager. You need to be easily accessible and flexible knowing that the company is working with you by letting you remain working remotely. Plan frequent calls, chats, and virtual meetings with your team and stay a key player.

Working Remotely Post Covid