Saying NO to Your Manager

“Yes, Boss” is an easy way to excel in a job if you believe in the dictum of “Boss is always Right”. The situation sometimes compels us to take an unprecedented stance. Saying NO to your manager becomes imperative in cases of unusual workload, unreasonable orders, and mischievous instructions that can lead to defamation and losses to the organizational stake.

All the above and some other factors can be possible reasons to say NO to your manager. Of course, it is an exception to office discipline. It is not a thing to practice in a routine. Whatever the justification saying no to your boss is a difficult thing to do. There are many ways to say no, both good and bad.

Here we explore the ways that one must try in case of genuine need to say NO. 

Organization First

Be careful that saying NO is not because of your attitude. Your liking and disliking may not serve as the reason to say no. It is always the stake of your organization that you serve best to choose to say no. Always be clear that organizational hierarchy is what you must respect.

Your difference of opinion with your manager is only for the sake of the best alternatives. You can disagree and offer your solution politely. It is the prerogative of the high-ups in the hierarchy to make the final decision. You must be part of the decision wholeheartedly once the decision is taken. 

Respect your Manager

There are situations when you feel misunderstood and develop bad feelings for your manager. Remember that your manager feels the same way in the given situation. Avoid developing a grudge. It is not a personality clash but just a variance of approaches to resolving the issue.

Think from the point of view of your manager if it can help you to better understand the spectrum. A straight No is annoying. Come up with more workable options. Chances are there that the more practical option from you can get attention. 

 Justify Your Stance

Saying NO to your manager is only justified if you have a valid reason behind it. It is not justified for a motive lesser than organizational goodwill. Your point of view gets attention only if you have a genuine reason to contradict your manager. A legitimate valuable stance admired by the manager and considered as an alternative.

You can present your point with strong argumentation to justify your stand. Reasonably presented arguments can convince your manager to subscribe to your views. Saying YES to everything wrong or harmful to you and your organization ultimately wreaks havoc with your self-esteem.

Never be Rigid 

Your manager sometimes needs you to work beyond the defined timelines. Replying to an email on an off day or attending an urgent call after work hours is not a big deal. Be flexible to such odds in time of need.

Things however go wrong if your manager is in the habit of using tricks for teasing. Saying no becomes appropriate to stop him from making it a practice. A blunt NO is again discouraged. Better to refer to the organizational rules. Another rational way is to bring the high-ups into the loop to get aware and interfere. 

Importance of Timing

You must be a master of your work knowing its nature, space, and timing. You must have full knowledge of what is going on around your workplace. What is important? And how the timing is relevant. Do you see any valid reason for the manager to request you for an “off routine” assignment? Is it relevant to the larger interest of the organization? Is the time appropriate for such a request? You can consider saying NO if you have any serious reservations. 

Suggest Alternative

The most important thing is to reasonably understand hierarchical positions. Your manager deserves respect. You are duty-bound to obey his orders. Whether you like it or not, the position has its privileges.

You have the right to have your views but have no right to defy orders. The rationale approach is to express yourself with more workable alternatives. No professional can turn down a better alternative without considering it for testing. Your no, in that case, will not pinch your manager but taken positively.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

  • uhayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textiles, and teaching in business administration.