At an intern level, you might not be able to say “no” but after knowing your strengths and weaknesses a few months into the job, it might be smarter to turn down offers than to grab every opportunity at hand. Here’s why.
1. You don’t appear inefficient
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you’re up to your neck in work, let your supervisor know. Trying to be a yes-man or people-pleaser will only land you in hot soup when you realise you can’t meet deadlines because you’re overloaded.
2. You can spend more time and effort at the given task
Instead of trying to finish all tasks at hand and prioritising quantity over quality, understand that slipshod work is not acceptable under any circumstances. Don’t agree to take on more assignments only to realise that you can’t complete them on time and submit incomplete stuff. Whoever who has to pick up after you will defo won’t be happy.
3. You won’t screw things up
If the task offered to you is not your area of expertise, don’t eagerly take it up without thinking twice. Some jobs require expert knowledge, so don’t be a smart aleck and think you can Google your way through because no, you can’t. Moreover, you’ll probably spend more time struggling over it compared to an expert who can get it done in no time. Don’t waste everyone’s time.
4. You don’t get involved in office politics
If someone invites you for a gossip session, decline politely. They might be trying to sound you out or see your true colours. If you’re afraid of being left out, sit in but don’t contribute.
How to say “no” without losing your job
1. Do it face-to-face
Saying “no” through email or instant messaging can make you sound curt since the tone is absent.
2. Explain why you can’t take it up
Don’t just stop at “no”. Tell your supervisor why you can’t take it up. “I don’t wanna do OT” is not a good reason.
3. Don’t say it in a condescending tone
If you were assigned minor tasks, don’t tell your boss that it’s beneath you to do it. Especially when you’re of the lowest rank. It’s an unspoken rule—even in companies that claim they have no “red tapes”—but hierarchy matters.
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