How to Say No to Work Without Being Rude

Advice on turning down tasks or requests for assistance from a butler

Written by Charles MacPherson
Illustration: Kagan MacLeod

Charles MacPherson is the founder of Charles MacPherson Associates, a staffing and training firm catering to the hospitality industry. He’s also the author of The Pocket Butler: A Compact Guide to Modern Manners, Business Etiquette and Everyday Entertaining. Here, MacPherson explains how you can say no in the workplace without seeming rude.

First, you need to determine why you want to say no. Is it because you are too swamped? Or is your colleague just lazily downloading stuff on you? If it’s the first one, you can say, €˜I know you need this done, but I’m on a deadline right now to get this to the client, so the earliest I can do that is X.’ For the latter case, if it’s a colleague, you can just come out and say, €˜I know you need my help on this, but I really don’t have the time.’


How comfortable are you saying “no” to requests and tasks? What’s your strategy for doing it without being rude? Let us know by commenting below.

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