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Saying ‘no’ to tricky requests

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Request: Your boss asks you to supervise this season’s intern, who acts like she’s never held a job in her life.

What to say: “Wow, that’s an interesting project. I’m really busy with the ‘ABC’ assignment right now, so let me know how you want me to re-prioritize.”

Why it works: Asking your boss to prioritize tasks for you means that you don’t have to actually say no.

Request: You are asked to organize your company’s charity event … again.

What to say: “I know I’m going to disappoint you, but I’ve decided not to volunteer this year, since I’ve taken it on for the past two years. Maybe someone else can step up this year.”

Why it works: Addressing the problem of one person’s doing all the work lets you sidestep manipulative comments such as, “We won’t be able to pull it off without you!”

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