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Quiet Quitting and how to say "no".

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

This post combines two concepts; firstly the concept of losing motivation at work and 'quiet quitting' and secondly a strategy to look after yourself better in the workplace by being able to appropriately say 'no' to requests.


Quiet Quitting

To introduce the concept of quiet quitting, read the article Thinking about quiet quitting? Here’s why – and how – you should talk to your boss instead which gives an interesting insight into on of the consequences of losing motivation at work.

Whilst reading, think about the following questions; some can be answered directly from the text, others from your own opinions.

  1. What is quiet quitting? and how does it differ from simply "quitting" your job?

  2. What affects peoples engagement with their work?

  3. Why is it important to maintain boundaries between yourself and your workload?

  4. What strategies do you have personally to maintain your work life balance?


Setting Boundaries and saying "no"

If you ever find yourself being asked to do something that is going to have a negative impact on your ability to do your job, cause you unnecessary stress or generally affect your work life balance, you might find yourself needing to say no, or at least saying yes with certain conditions.

Let's start off with a couple of functional expressions and the circumstances that you might need them, then we'll work through a couple of real life scenarios within which you need to say no politely... remember, your tone of voice will carry a lot of how you are understood, and this is also a really useful task to work on together as part of a lesson.

Keep it simple:

  • I’m sorry, but…

  • I’d really like to, but…

  • I appreciate the offer, but…,

  • I wish I could, but right now I need to focus on…

  • Normally I’d be able to, but right now I have to….

Explain why the answer is no: if you can't take on something without there being a consequence, then it's probably best to state that.

  • I’m really busy right now,

  • I really don't have time at the moment,

  • I'm currently working on __________, so can't take anything else on...

Saying Yes with Conditions:

  • I could take on this work, but it would mean that I can't do ___________ ,

  • I can certainly do this, but if it's going to be done well, then I would only be able to do it by _______.

Polite ways to say no to an offer:

  • I appreciate the offer, but…

  • That would be great, but I’m already working on…

  • Thank you for the offer, but my schedule is full at the moment.

Polite ways to say no to invitations to social events:

  • That sounds great, but….

  • I’m sorry I can’t that night. I have to….

  • I really appreciate the invite, but

Practice Scenarios: How would you respond to the following situation? what would be an appropriate response?

  1. You have been asked to take on some more work, but you know that if you do you would need to stay later in the office. However, you have only recently started in the company and want to create a good impression. (is it better to create a good impression, or set boundaries?)

  2. You have been asked to take on some work with a deadline of 3 days. You are really busy, but know that you could finish the work within 7 days, or if another piece of work was taken away from you.

  3. It is the weekend, a colleague has sent you a message asking you to review a presentation that they have prepared.

  4. A colleague of yours has a video call with a client planned, since you know more about the information that will be discussed in the call they have asked you to join, however, you have another important piece of work to do at the same time.

  5. An important client has asked you at short notice to complete some work for them, it will take up most of your weekend, though not doing so could risk losing the client.

  6. A manager from a different department has contacted you to delegate some work to you, it's not your responsibility, but they have told you that you have no option but to do it.


This functional skill is an essential skill to have to be able to work professionally in English. If you are interested in having a series of lessons to work on this and more functional skills then please get in contact at Best, Joel

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