How To Tell Your Boss 'No' Without Jeapardizing Your Job

Having a job is challenging for so many reasons, no matter the industry you're in. For most of us, a lot of our livelihood depends on having a job and keeping it. This can make it especially difficult to manage your job in a way where clear boundaries are set and where you can put your foot down when you need to.

So many of us struggle when trying to set work and home-life boundaries. In fact, according to Forbes, 70% of folks who identify as knowledge workers were affected by burnout over the course of the past year. Clearly, this is a high percentage, yet setting boundaries and being aware of your own needs as an employee is the best way to make sure you don't get run down (via Better Boundaries Workbook). Of course, this is much easier said than done, but simply changing your frame of mind regarding work can make all the difference.

Whys setting boundaries at work is necessary — even if it's scary

Burnout is often caused by overworking, and more often than not, it will end up making it even more difficult to be effective at work. According to Forbes, burnout is what occurs when overworking makes you feel like you're failing at your job and like you're stuck in the day-to-day monotony of your career. This can also make you feel increasingly pessimistic and can often cause depression. This means that ensuring that you're only doing as much work as is comfortable for you is vital to be confident and capable in your profession.

Per Better Boundaries Workbook, technological advancements have made it much easier for our bosses to get ahold of us at all times and ask us to be available more frequently than is healthy for us. That's why it's our responsibility to be clear about when the expectations placed on us are too much. Since this can mean saying "no" to something our boss requests of us, this can make some folks feel like setting boundaries puts their job and livelihood in jeopardy, and this makes burnout even more likely. 

How to set boundaries with your boss in a professional way

Luckily, there are ways to be professional about setting boundaries. According to Better Boundaries Workbook, there are plenty of boundaries to set on your own without asking for permission. This can include not checking work-related emails or Slack messages after a certain time and on your days off or taking adequate breaks throughout the day. If you work a typical 8-hour day, logging off when you're supposed to every day may seem simple, but it's an easy way to feel in control of your time. 

If you need to talk to your boss about the boundaries you're setting, be professional and clear (via Indeed). It also helps to let your boss know that you're aware that they're in charge and that the decision is ultimately theirs. Presenting them with possible compromises and addressing why you need to set this boundary lets them know that you have a need and a plan. Asking for more time to complete something or for clarity on assignments can be great ways to prevent the burnout that also show your boss that you're engaged with your work.

That said, if you do find that your boss doesn't respect your boundaries or that you feel anxiety about your job security when you pursue your needs, it may be time to decide to make a career change. Being in a nurturing and fair work environment can make a major difference in your mental health and overall well-being.