Capable Workers, Don’t Be Afraid to Refuse Excessive Instructions from Your Boss

A youthful colleague is a proficient laborer. Upon departing from our establishment, he transitioned into an autonomous freelancer, engaging in a diverse array of projects from the comfort of his abode and leading a life of ease. He paid me a visit, reminiscing about bygone days and elucidating the reasons behind his departure from his previous occupation. He portrayed it as a bygone era he could not bear to revisit. During that juncture, he found himself entangled in an inextricable web of responsibilities, incessantly burdened by an incessant barrage of tasks from his superior, which rendered him physically and mentally fatigued, experiencing immense anguish. Ultimately, he was compelled to tender his resignation, thus concluding this period of profound suffering.

His words left me astounded. He is an adept individual. Why does his employer exhibit such indifference towards his well-being, driving him to toil so arduously that resignation was his sole recourse? His astonishment mirrored mine. Given his prior state of excessive busyness, why did he not decline the additional assignments bestowed upon him by his boss?

He confided in me that he dare not refuse the entreaties of his superior, for the boss held a position of authority. He feared that declining would not only incur the boss’s displeasure but also leave an unfavorable impression, thereby subjecting him to adversity in the future. Consequently, he felt compelled to accept the burdensome workload, culminating in his eventual resignation.

Truly, this is a tragic tale. A commendable employee reluctantly acquiesces to the boss’s directives for the sake of livelihood, only to find themselves eventually compelled to resign. This situation yields a mutually detrimental outcome for both the individual and the organization.

In the past, I, too, embraced the role of an employee who embraced any task presented before me. I regarded each assignment from my superior as a mark of distinction. Given my competence, my boss continued to entrust me with responsibilities. Whenever possible, I willingly embraced these tasks, striving to acquit myself to the best of my abilities, steadfastly avoiding refusals.

However, the weight of numerous obligations often left me feeling suffocated. Initially, I lacked the audacity to decline and continued to shoulder the burdens assigned by my boss. Eventually, I realized that this path would lead to turmoil. Alas, I mustered the courage to reveal the truth to my boss.

With great care, I approached my boss, explaining the overwhelming workload I bore. I conveyed my apprehension that accepting a new assignment would likely impede my ability to discharge it with excellence. I implored my boss, requesting a temporary cessation of new assignments.

I anticipated my boss’s displeasure, yet to my astonishment, he did not exhibit anger. Instead, he expressed remorse. He confessed that he had been unaware of the extent of my burden and had unwittingly continued to assign me work. He pledged to delegate tasks to others and assured me that I need only inform him when I had regained availability, at which point he would reassign tasks my way.

It transpired that my trepidation regarding offending the boss had been unwarranted. The boss, too, possessed reason and open lines of communication. This revelation granted me a sense of absolution.

Many years later, when I ascended to the position of a small-scale employer, I finally comprehended the veracity of this wisdom. The boss, typically well acquainted with each team member, discerns who possesses competence and performs admirably. Consequently, the boss often seeks out capable colleagues, entrusting them with fresh duties. Conversely, the boss refrains from assigning work to those deemed incapable.

Given the boss’s predilection for assigning tasks to the competent, such individuals often find themselves burdened with copious responsibilities, juggling multiple obligations simultaneously, perpetually swamped.

Yet, why does the boss not react angrily when faced with refusal? The answer lies in its simplicity. Bosses typically cherish their proficient employees and strive to prevent them from succumbing to overexertion. When informed of their limitations, bosses usually relinquish their demands without ire.

Another factor is that bosses are well-aware when an employee reaches their breaking point. So why do they persist in assigning work? They seek to test the boundaries of their workers. Once met with refusal, bosses promptly desist.

Competent workers, fear not rejecting excessive directives from your superiors. It shall not precipitate calamity.

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