“No” is a rather frowned upon word in business—especially if you’re a new business owner or have recently started a job. So often we get in the habit of agreeing to everything and anything. After all, what if we turn down what ends up being an incredible opportunity or the thing that becomes our big break? Unfortunately, that logic rarely leads to growth. In fact, it’s more likely to hinder your professional growth than help it since you’ll start rocketing towards burnout. 

At the end of the day, saying “no” is about respect, setting boundaries, and forcing a mutual respect to come into play. Not being able to say “no” can be very detrimental to our careers, but also to our mental health and wellbeing. If you’re still skeptical of “no,” and afraid of using it in the wrong situations, you can start slow. For example, the following scenarios depict instances in which saying “no” should be strongly considered. 

Getting Rid of Toxic Clients

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been victimized by a disgruntled customer! Every business professional has had a nasty run-in with a toxic client. This could be a person that complains non-stop, demands too much, or is way too pushy—or flat out verbally insults or attacks you. Whatever the toxic behavior is, a respectable professional needs to be able to say “no” to such behavior and either get rid of the client or force them to change their behavior if they want to continue services. 

No More Overtime

No employee or business professional should ever be forced, guilted, or shamed into working overtime. Sadly, many managers often use terrible tactics in order to coerce a person into working too much overtime. Career professionals need to be able to stand up for themselves and say “no” to overtime requests that are unwelcomed. What’s more, many states have employment regulations that provide employees the legal opportunity to turn down overtime. So, saying no is not only okay—it’s your right. 

No More Late Payments

Whether it’s a late paycheck, late payment from a client, or a late funds transfer, none of these scenarios is acceptable in the professional business world. Any time that money is on the line, people will often shy away from being brutally honest in fear of losing that income stream. It is, however, important to say “no” to late payments from anyone, as it is extremely unethical and can eventually lead to no payment at all. Your time and services are valuable. Say “no” to people who try to exploit you and your business.

No More Freebies

Some employees, clients, and business professionals just cannot get enough freebies. Once these people taste one freebie they are often already pursuing freebie number two. These freebie-magnets need to be put in their place with a stern “no more” answer the next time they come around looking for undeserved handouts. Again, don’t let those who aren’t adding value to your company exploit you. 

No More Petty Tasks

Asking a coworker to fetch a coffee might be okay one time, but anything more than asking for a far removed favor once is veering into being disrespectful. If a boss, manager, or supervisor ever pushes the envelope too far with petty favors, then the recipient needs to put an immediate stop to it and politely say “no”. Chances are, you were not hired to be a professional coffee runner or carry out people’s favors. You have a job to do, and saying no to petty tasks will help you do it. 

Saying “no” in the workplace can be a bit scary, but learning to get comfortable turning down the things that make you uncomfortable will only progress your career and help you grow as a professional. Respect yourself, and others, by expressing your right to say “no.” 

Originally posted ChrisPfund.com.