Do You Have A Problem Saying No?

What are your tips on the best way an assistant can overcome their problem saying no?

“I have a real problem saying no at work. How do assert myself when I can’t take on any more?” This is one question I frequently here from administrative and executive assistants. I’m sure you many of you have encountered this, so I’d like your advice.

“I have a problem saying ‘no’ to anyone. In the past, climbing up to the position I presently hold, it was an asset and it helped me to get noticed and promoted, but now I find it has labeled me as the go-to person. With all the duties I am expected to perform, I just can’t help everyone, yet I find myself doing it anyway. How do I decline without sounding difficult or rude?”

Assistants all over the world have struggled with how to say ‘no’ at work.

My question to my readers: How have you handled or would handle a similar situation?

We encourage you to share in the comments below.

Are you an assistant who doesn’t have any trouble saying no? What has that experience been like for you?

Are you an assistant who has a problem saying no at work? Does that spill over outside of work? What are some of the biggest obstacles for you in saying no when you simply can’t or shouldn’t accommodate a person’s request of you?

Do you simply like being the ‘go-to’ person and yes is your favorite word? Let’s hear it! Please share below.

Need more help in the area of asserting yourself? We’ve got your back. Check out my entire series of blogs and webinars that can help you build your assertiveness in the workplace.

Do you think that saying no to someone means you are a terrible assistant? Check out our article: Qualities of a Great Assistant (spoiler – Yes Man/Woman isn’t on the list of qualities).

Related: How Well Do You Communicate? A guest post by Judi Moreo

Why Being A People-Pleaser Is Bad For Your Health


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5 thoughts on “Do You Have A Problem Saying No?”

  1. I can say “no”, but I like to say “Sure, when do you need that by?”, or ” Yes, I can have that ready tomorrow at _________ .”

  2. I have been both. At the moment I am able to say no mainly due to knowing that my Executive will back me up. If I get a request from my executive, it takes priority, and I will discuss other projects I’m working on with them to allow them to dictate the expectations.

  3. Over the years I no longer say No. I have changed my words to always say Yes! “Yes I can work on your task once I have accomplished my current duties,” or Yes I can work on your task, which of the ones I am currently working on can I push to a later deadline?” This has allowed my bosses to rethink what they are putting on me to accomplish and many times they will let me determine when I can complete the work. This has really helped out to put me in charge of my day.

  4. Giovanna de Beij

    I first make sure that the requests is aligned with my managers priorities, if that is not the case then I explain that I do not have capacity. If my colleagues still push for me to help, I then escalate by asking them to speak to my manager to see if the request is a priority, that usually is enough to get my colleagues to back off. However, this approach doesnt work for all organizations. My organization is quite hiearchical so this works.

  5. Ugh, this is me to a T! Can’t wait to read replies and learn how to be assertive with saying no when my plate is already full. I tend to say yes, and then my own duties take back burner and are rushed to accomodate everyone else’s requests. Thank you in advance!

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