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WSI Staffing Blog - Alternatives to Saying thats not my job

Alternatives to Saying, “That’s Not my Job”

“That’s not my job.” We’ve all heard this phrase in the workplace before – heck, we’ve maybe even said it a time or two. It’s become a common phrase, but that doesn’t mean it should be. Ever heard of “All other duties as assigned?” 

Let’s think about a scenario for a second:

Your co-worker comes to you, frantic, because she’s running behind and needs help cleaning at the end of the day. Is it your job to clean up at the end of her shift? Probably not. You have two options: Help her out, or mutter “That’s not my job.”

Obviously, it would be easy to avoid extra work at the risk of being labeled as someone who is lazy and unaccommodating.

But that doesn’t mean you should automatically pick up the slack for others, either. Consider other ways to say yes or no in a more productive way: 

If you do have time to help out: 

Instead of, “Yes, I’ll drop everything I’m doing right now.” 

Consider: “How can I help [within this time frame]?”

If you don’t have time to help out: 

Instead of “Cleaning the kitchen isn’t  my job.”

Consider: “I’d like to help you out, but I don’t have the capacity to right now.”

If you can, offer a compromise:

“I’m really pressed for time so I can’t help clean the whole kitchen, but I’d be happy to take the trash to the dumpster on my way out.”

At the end of the day, it’s ok to say no. But, next time a co-worker requests your assistance, think about whether or not you want “That’s not my job” to be your tagline. 

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