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Agency Professionals, Avoid Becoming a Monster by Learning How to Say, “No”

Agency life—like many other service industries—is full of demands, pressures and random projects. Unfortunately, when work starts to pile up and stress levels reach their breaking points, we can all become a bit nasty. Some may even categorize us as monsters.

To avoid becoming “that person” everyone in your office fears, you must learn how to say, “no” to additional projects. Unfortunately, this is a hard word to say to a peer or manager since it can be perceived as an inability or unwillingness to live up to the requirements of your job.

In actuality, the opposite is true. Saying, “no” simply demonstrates your ability to understand your capabilities, prioritize your workload, and know what it takes to consistently deliver high-quality client work.

Depending on the type of monster you tend to transform into, here are some tactful ways to say, “no.”


Qualities: Regular all-nighters and spending the lunch hour at your desk have given you a pale, pasty complexion. When you do step outside, you can’t help but shield yourself from the intense sunlight.

How to Say No: If possible, look at yourself in the mirror and practice saying your refusal first. Then, meet with your manager to talk through how your current project priorities and deadlines won’t enable you to realistically take on anything new right now. Finally, ask your manager to help reprioritize your workload if the new project is more important than your current workload. (Recommended explanation: “I can’t at this time.”)


Qualities: At least once every full moon, you become an angry snarling beast as you deal with the pressure of client and agency responsibilities piling up. Often you’ll snap at nearby coworkers, infecting everyone’s mood in the office until it’s full of grouchy beasts all growling at each other.

How to Say No: Don’t bite the face off of anyone asking for help. Instead, take time to consider the details of the request as well as the requested deadline. Forbes recommends considering how much time the request will take to deliver quality work, and then how the new work could fit into your existing workload. (Recommended explanation: “Sorry, but not today. I’ll get back to you if anything changes.”)


Qualities: You’re dead on your feet, wandering the halls with your arms outstretched searching for the nearest coffee pot. Meanwhile, you’re unaware of the piece of toilet paper wrapped around your ankle.

How to Say No: Too much work and no play can cause you to forget what it’s like to be alive. Give your mind a much-needed break by scheduling a vacation and getting away from work (not just the office). You’ll come back energized and ready to take on the world. (Recommended explanation: “Sorry, but I’ll be out of the office with limited access to email.”)

Swamp Things

Qualities: Moss-covered clothing, and a ripe smell of body odor and/or mildew.

How to Say No: Too much work is probably not an issue for you since no one wants to be within 100 feet of you.



Qualities: Your ability to magically produce high-quality work on time means everyone turns to you first for help. You accept the work while simultaneously cursing the person as they walk away (secretly, of course).

How to Say No: First off, don’t worry about being fired—you’re too valuable to be hurt that way. If you do have to decline additional work, do so without being apologetic. According to Monster, ”Say what you need to in a concise way so that it doesn't sound like you are trying to make excuses to avoid taking on the extra work.” (Recommended explanation: “No. I don’t have capacity to take on that request.”)

While it’s admirable to want to lend a hand to your coworkers and managers, you need to say, “no” when the work becomes too much to effectively manage. The only person who is going to get hurt is you, as deadlines may start to be missed and lower quality work delivered.

Avoid becoming a monster at work, and learn to say, “no.” What are some ways you’ve told a manager or coworker, “no?”


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