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Responding to an Unreasonable Request

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Sometimes you get asked to do something at work that just doesn’t seem reasonable. Maybe it would require extraordinary effort on your part, is last minute, or is just unfeasible. Here’s how to respond professionally and confidently. First, assess your relationship with the person making the request. What are the power dynamics at play? If it comes from your boss or an important client, for example, you might feel more pressure to comply. Next, ask open-ended questions about what’s really behind the request to get a better sense of what’s driving it. Their answers could help you propose an alternate solution that’s easier to execute. If there isn’t an obvious alternative, speak up for yourself. The person making the ask may have no idea that it’s unreasonable. Explain your circumstances and outline why what they’re asking isn’t realistic for you. And finally, let the other person know if there’s something they can do differently next time they have a similar request. It’s a way to give gentle but direct feedback and make for more positive interactions in the future

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