It’s great to be a team player, but only to a point. If you say yes to every extra assignment that comes down the pike, you’re liable to get burned out and feel resentful of your coworkers. That’s according to Melody Wilding, the therapist and career expert behind “Pain-Free Ways to Stop Being a Pushover at Work,” a helpful article recently published at the Daily Muse. As Wilding writes, it’s natural to want to make yourself seem useful to the company, but “eagerness to please can quickly go too far.” If you develop a reputation as someone who can’t say no, you’ll find your nights and weekends disappearing faster than donuts in the break room.
So how do you walk the line between helpful, courteous go-getter and total doormat? Scroll down to read Wilding’s tips, and next time someone asks you to lessen their load, ask yourself whether it’s really in your best interest.
1. Figure Out Why You’re a Pushover — There are many reasons people say yes to extra work, and while some are positive — a desire to stand out and impress the higher-ups — some aren’t. Are you trying to break into an office clique? Maybe you simply crave attention? “Recognizing what you’re dealing with is the first step to helping you identify and manage trouble situations in the future,” Wilding writes.
2. Make a “To Don’t” List — Figure out what your main work priorities are, and once you’ve jotted them down, keep a list of tasks that won’t help you meet those objectives. For example, if you’re goal is to increase profits by a certain percentage, don’t take on pro bono work intended to help the company diversify.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate — When something comes along that makes your “to don’t” list, start by checking around to see if anyone else might be qualified to take it. “Ambitious self-starters often get caught up on multiple projects, but if you don’t start passing off certain tasks now, it will only overwhelm you when it becomes too much,” Wilding writes.
4. Learn to Say “No” Right to Someone’s Face — As Wilding writes, this is the “hardest part,” as it’s always tough to say “no” to a person standing right in front of you, particularly when they’re your boss. So what do you do? While Wilding suggests standing firm, she advocates proposing alternatives. Say the manager asks you to come in on Saturday and finish up a project. If you’ve got weekend plans, offer to come in early on Monday morning. “You’re still showing value and dedication — but you’re also maintaining your sanity,” Wilding writes.