Saying ‘No’ to That Promotion You Don’t Want

At the end of a conference, a woman approached me with a situation she was really struggling with at work, and one you don’t hear of all that often.

She wanted to turn down a promotion.

But she didn’t know how she was going to say no without irritating her boss or damaging her reputation at the company. Or worse, in a way that wouldn’t risk being offered a promotion in the future.  

So it’s a pretty simple process on how you say no to a promotion.

First, you have to be crystal clear on why you’re saying no.

What are all of the details? Write those down, whether it’s personal or professional reasons. Know exactly why that particular promotion is not the right fit for you.

Second, schedule a time to meet with your manager.

Please, please, please do not just barge into their office to have this conversation! Make sure that it is planned and scheduled, and that they know you’re coming in to provide feedback on that promotion.

Third, thank your manager for offering the promotion.

They saw something in you, wanted to give you an opportunity – you need to show your gratitude. Show that you’re thankful for the recognition and the offer of trusting you to do something more than you even are today.

Finally, share why this particular promotion isn’t the right fit for you today but what your future goals are.

Be as transparent as possible about the reasons why this isn’t. Then ask what you could be doing for the future. Share with your manager what your goals are, where you want to be moving forward, and see how you might be able to come up with projects or opportunities that would better align than the promotion would, to help you get to that future spot and help the company grow at the same time.  

I hope these tips help if you are faced with a situation of how you might say no to a promotion. 

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