Working in a fast-paced environment can mean that you need to be able to adapt and respond to changing circumstances quickly. So if your boss needs you to work on a certain project, or you just don’t feel like going into the office on a particular day, how do you let her know? If you think about it, bosses are people too. They have their own personal lives and interests outside of work; therefore, they aren’t going to understand or appreciate being micromanaged. Even with all of this in mind, however, it can still be difficult for employees to know how best to tell their boss that they will not be working as expected. It is also true that there are some circumstances where telling your boss respectfully but directly that you cannot work may be necessary. Here are ways to tell your boss that you can’t work today without compromising your professionalism or putting them on the defensive:
How To Tell Your Boss You Can’t Work Today?
1. Communicate early
Communicate with your boss as soon as you know for sure that you won’t be in the office. This may mean that you need to communicate with them the day before (or even the same day) that you know you can’t work. Keep in mind that if your boss will be expecting you to be in the office and you don’t show up, there will be consequences. If you know ahead of time that you won’t be in the office, you can try to smooth things over by contacting your boss with an explanation as soon as possible. This will help them to understand that you really couldn’t avoid missing work and that you are being responsible by letting them know in advance. It will also give them time to find a suitable replacement.
2. Give a reasonable excuse
A reasonable excuse for why you can’t work doesn’t have to be anything dramatic. You can simply say that you are sick or otherwise unable to work. You can say that a family member is sick, or that you have a doctor’s appointment. You can say that you have to take care of a sick pet. You can say that you have to attend a funeral or visit a relative in the hospital. You can say that you need to fly out of town to visit a sick relative or attend a family funeral. There are lots of perfectly reasonable reasons why you may need to miss work, and there’s no reason to try to hide them. If you can, you should provide a doctor’s note that explains the situation.
3. Try to find a suitable replacement
If you have been working with your boss for a while and she trusts you, she may appreciate you letting her know that you can’t work and then offering to find a replacement. There may be times when you miss work and your boss is really busy, which means that she may appreciate the gesture. If you find someone to cover for you, your boss will be grateful that you are trying to make things as easy as possible for her. Try to make sure that the person who steps in for you is qualified for the job. You don’t want your boss to feel as if you are just trying to get out of work. If you can find someone who is as qualified as you, your boss will appreciate your initiative even more.
4. Offer to work remotely
If you need to miss work for a day or two, but can’t think of a good excuse and you don’t have anyone to cover for you, you may want to consider offering to work remotely. You can do this if you have a job that can be done from anywhere and your employer doesn’t have a strict policy about working remotely. You may feel awkward about this, but you shouldn’t. Working remotely is a common practice in many industries.
5. Be firm but polite and use the word “no”
If your work environment is generally pretty relaxed but you just don’t want to go into work for a particular day, you can be straightforward but polite about it. Say something along the lines of: “I don’t want to take any time off right now. I’ve just been really focused on my work lately, and I really don’t need the break.” That is clear and straightforward, but it is also firm. If your boss pushes back, you can add: “I know this isn’t normal, but I really don’t want to take any time off right now.” If your boss continues to push back, you can push back harder with “I’m sorry, but I really don’t need the time off right now.”
Why It’s Important To Say No?
- First, why it’s important to say no. As we just discussed, you need to prove to your boss that you’re someone they can trust to get important things done. When you say no to your boss when you don’t have to, you prove that you’re dedicated to your job and that you’re someone who can be relied upon to say no when you really mean no. If you only say no during extreme circumstances, your boss is never really sure if you’re genuinely committed to your job or if you’re just not feeling well on any given day. How do they know that you’re not faking it? After all, who doesn’t feel under the weather now and again?
- What you really want to do is say “No, I can’t work today.” Or, “No, I don’t feel well enough to work today.” These are professional ways of saying no that will not only prevent you from being perceived as someone who can be easily pushed around but also show that you have a strong sense of duty and professionalism.
- If possible, get a doctor’s note or an official excuse from your boss beforehand. This way you can show the note when you ask for the day off and avoid having to spend time detailing why it was necessary for you to take the day off. Be honest about why you need the day off but don’t give too much detail if it’s not necessary (e.g., “My dog needs surgery.”
- You might say, “I’ll just tell my boss that I’m sick and he or she will understand.” No, they won’t. Why not? Because you are a valuable asset to your company and they want to get the most out of you. Even though you might be sick, your boss would rather have you at work than off work in bed.
Tips To Help You Say No Without Ruining Your Career
- If you’ve done everything you can and you still feel like you need to say no to your boss when you don’t need to, you’ll want to make sure you do it in the right way. Here are a few tips to help you make that happen.
- Identify a specific task. If your boss asks you to take on a specific task, you can say that you’re too busy. However, if your boss just asks for help, you can’t say no. Instead, you need to ask for clarification. Say something like, “I’d love to help with that, but could we talk about the best way to do it?” This will give you the chance to clarify that you don’t have time for the task.
- Be diplomatic. No one ever won an argument or a battle by being impolite or rude. Even if your boss doesn’t respect your decision, other people will, and those people will be your allies in the long run.
- Be willing to negotiate. If your boss asks you to take on a task that would take an absurd amount of time, you need to be willing to negotiate. For example, say something like, “I’d love to do that, but let’s talk about what we can do to reach this goal in a reasonable timeframe.
Being able to tell your boss that you can’t work is a tricky situation. You don’t want to make things harder for your boss by missing work unnecessarily, but you also don’t want to be forced to come into the office when you just don’t want to be there. You may want to miss work for valid reasons, but your boss may not hold you in high regard if she feels like you abuse this privilege. However, if you follow these tips, you should be able to avoid any issues with your boss.