When you’re a fresh-faced college graduate just starting to truly dip your toe in the professional pond, the idea of saying no to opportunities seems ridiculous. Shadowing a coworker? Sounds good. Extra hours working on a special project? No problem. Forcing yourself to strike up a conversation with all your future work besties? Splendid. While saying yes to new experiences during this time in your life is definitely beneficial, it’s also important to keep in mind that saying yes isn’t always a positive thing. It’s even tougher when you’re saying no to not just a project, but the person behind the sketchy offer. Here’s five toxic people that should earn a solid no from you at work:
1. THE COWORKER WHO SEEMS TO NEED A LITTLE BIT TOO MUCH OF YOUR HELP
Remember that kid at school that always needed a copy of your notes, wanted your advice on a project, or was hoping you could help them with some project because you’re just so darn good at everything? Well, those kids graduate and some of them might just gets jobs right alongside you – so be prepared in case they haven’t grown out of this behavior. There’s nothing wrong with lending a hand, but if your coworker seems to be passing a lot of their work on to you, especially on a daily basis, it’s time to nip that in the bud. If you’ve been really sucked in, it might seem tough to deny them but be sure to stand your ground. In these instances, remember that you don’t actually owe them an explanation of why you’re not going to do their work for them.
2. THE SUPERVISOR THAT ISN’T YOUR SUPERVISOR (BUT THINKS THEY’RE EVERYBODY’S SUPERVISOR)
This can be a tricky situation, because saying no to someone in a position of authority in your company can seem incredibly daunting. If you have your own supervisor’s blessing to assist another employee, then by all means, keep at it! If you’re falling behind on your own work though, or you’ve been warned about this supervisor by others or even just feel uncomfortable with their demands, it’s time to say no. Be sure to stay respectful and not agitate the situation – but also be sure to make it clear that you have work priorities from your own boss that need to be met. You don’t want to get caught up in office politics, but I guarantee that staying within your lane is better than letting yourself get taken advantage of by an unprofessional supervisor with a control problem.
3. THE EMPLOYEE THAT THINKS NETWORKING IS EQUIVALENT TO GOSSIPING ABOUT EVERYONE IN THE NETWORK
It can sometimes be tough to navigate office friendships, especially in some corporate settings where a lot of politics may be involved. Even in small businesses, there will always be some sort of drama brewing, no matter how small. There are also always those office instigators. These people relish in chaos. They love a good argument, like playing both sides of the fence and probably have plenty of office frenemies. If a coworker approaches you and seeks to establish a connection by talking about everyone else in the office, put a red flag on them mentally and avoid playing into their game. It’s great to stay on good terms with someone, but if you want to be taken seriously, you need to avoid getting too chummy with these folks. They probably have a reputation you don’t want for yourself. Plus, if they’re talking about others, what’s to say they won’t talk about you too?
4. THE EMPLOYEE WHO WANTS TO CONVERT YOU TO THE “RULES DON’T APPLY TO ME” CLUB
These employees can be identified by their frequent tardiness, nonchalant attitudes toward management and lack of work ethic. In other words, these are the employees hanging on by the seat of their pants who just really don’t care about their jobs; harsh, but true. Sometimes these employees have been with the company a long time and have developed the mentality that they’re untouchable and can’t be controlled. If they try to encourage you to enjoy a very extended lunch break with them, skip work, ignore assignments or disrespect a manager – say no.
5. THE OVERLY EAGER AND PUSHY VENDOR THAT “JUST WANTS TO CONNECT” OVER LINKEDIN, A PHONE CALL, COFFEE, ETC.
If you never encounter this situation at work, then you’re one lucky duck! Since my role falls within marketing, I frequently get emails and calls from semi-spammy people claiming they just want to connect for (insert marketing reason here). Most of the time this translates into a sales pitch – and most of the time, you just don’t need what they’re selling. It’s difficult for me to consistently give a firm no to these persuasive types, but it’s something I’ve learned to practice because the easier bait you are, the more fishy folks you’ll attract. I always worry about hurting someone’s feelings but at the end of the day, it’s not rude to say you’re not interested in whatever it is someone is selling – it’s just business, and you won’t be the first (or last) person to say no.