How do I push back?

How important is obedience in the workplace? Sure, you don’t want to be the rebellious employee that doesn’t follow instructions or get tasks completed on time, but blind obedience can have its problems as well.

There will be times where you feel the need to push back against your superiors or co-workers. Perhaps your boss asks you to do something that you don’t really agree with, whether that’s because it doesn’t align with your personal values or is simply unethical or even illegal. Other times, you may simply have too much work on your plate and are still being given more.

In these cases, how do you push back without putting your professional reputation and job security at risk?

State your viewpoint

When presented with something you don’t agree with at work, explain to your colleague how you feel and why you feel that way. Try not to do this too publicly; arranging a private meeting with that person is a good idea. If you can back up your case with evidence of why you think it’s a bad idea, then that will help.

Offer an alternative

Simply rejecting your colleague’s request or proposal isn’t helpful. Sure, you’ve kept your own integrity intact, but they still don’t have a solution to the problem they came to you with. Instead, try offering an alternative solution that is more feasible.

Don’t make it personal

You should focus on pushing back against what is being asked of you or the colleague’s stance, rather than pushing back against the colleague themselves. Making things personal can create a lot of tension in the workplace and can put you in a more vulnerable position.

It can be difficult to say “no” in the workplace, especially to people who are much more senior than you, but sometimes it is necessary in order to maintain your credibility and professional reputation. Just make sure that you’re doing it in a way that isn’t too aggressive or disrespectful.

For more advice on pushing back effectively at work and maintaining professional boundaries, contact me online to enquire about my coaching services, or call +44 (0) 7531 228089.