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How to tell your boss ‘That’s above my pay grade’—without sounding rude or unprofessional: Public speaking expert

By | John Bowe |

As we return to pre-pandemic work hours and arrangements, how do you handle a manager who feels you should still be on call at all hours?

You want to be a team player and remain professional. But when your manager repeatedly ignores your workload, primary responsibilities and schedule, pushing you to the verge of burnout, it’s time to set limits.

If your boss gives you assignments above your pay grade, use these phrases to set boundaries without seeming childish, rude or unprofessional:

1. “Hold on, let me think it through.”

As a public speaking coach, I always tell people to consider their audience before they speak. Take a minute to process your boss’ request.

If they want you to handle a last-minute client project on a Friday at 5 p.m., for example, pause and ask yourself: Has this been a pattern as of late?

If your boss generally respects your time and is trying to solve a truly urgent problem, they might deserve the benefit of the doubt. But if they’re picking on you — and only you — that’s another story. Are they at least offering to pitch in and help?

Either way, set your feelings aside. You’re not saying “yes” or “no” yet; you’re simply taking time to evaluate. 

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