Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio admits she’s been bullied, and why you should never do a job you’re uncomfortable with
Saying no to a job doesn’t make you a bad employee.
It’s okay to politely decline a work assignment that makes you feel uncomfortable without coming across as difficult or unreliable, and the sooner you do it, the less likely you’ll be asked to do another one like it.
Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio opened up about her modeling experiences where industry people have tried to get her to do things she didn’t want to do a month after a magazine allegedly published a nude photo of her without her consent.
“On many occasions where the shoot was to not have nudity, I would arrive on set and the photographer or stylist would pressure, cajole or demand that I pose nude because I had done it in the past,” she wrote on Instagram. “I was bullied. Many times, I was showed nude images of myself as examples to coerce me into posing nude, and whenever I stood my ground and refused, I was criticized and judged as being difficult.”
It may be awkward to tell a superior you can’t complete a task, but when a job or boss violates your personal values, it’s time to speak up, career experts say.
“Saying no is really hard and it makes you feel bad sometimes, but you have to do it,” New York-based career coach Susan Ginsberg O’Sullivan tells Moneyish.
“If the job is making you feel uncomfortable you have to say to your boss, ‘As much as I want to support and help you, it goes against my principles and values.’ You can’t be afraid to do it.”
Sure, it can be difficult when you’re not a celebrity to speak up at work because you want to show your boss that you’re reliable, but New York-based producer and photographer Kathryn Sheldon felt inclined to do it when she was asked to promote a company she can’t stand.
“When I was a producer at MTV, I refused to do a segment on an integration with Walmart, because I didn’t want my name associated with anything promoting them. I felt strongly about all of the injustices done by Walmart to their employees and the economy,” Sheldon recalls.
“I was asked to do the segment, and it took a lot of courage to say no, but I thought if I was going to be fired for saying no to that then it’s something I’d be proud to be fired for.”
Sheldon says her producer at the time rolled her eyes, but said they would find someone else to do it.
Still, saying no is difficult for many, who feel as though they will be reprimanded or in more severe cases, replaced. That’s why it’s important not to react emotionally, or defensively when declining a task, experts say.
“If you’re in the instance where someone asks you privately, try to avoid saying yes or no in the first instance,” Karen Dillon, author of “How Will You Measure Your Life,” suggests. “You can say ‘let me think about that, that’s complicated,’ or ‘I just want to sleep on that.’ Most people will respect that.”
If your boss is pushing you for a decision on the spot, that could be a sign that something is not kosher.
“See if you can get an hour to think about it. Have a trusted colleague help you practice your response. Then come back and deescalate the flare up to that request so you can calmly respond and get your point across in an honest way,” says Dillon.
If they persist, it may warrant a trip to Human Resources or just a flat out “no.”
“If it’s something unethical, it goes without saying that you should say no to your boss and decide if you’re going to escalate it to HR,” says career consultant Liz Bentley, who recognizes it’s not easy to go over your boss’s head, especially when they are the ones doing something shady. “You have to assess the culture and the situation first. Can you say ‘I’m uncomfortable with this?’ It depends on the person and the culture.
Bentley suggests being strategic by asking what the goal or desired outcome is for the project and offering up suggestions of things you can do to complete the task without compromising your beliefs.
“Say here’s where I’m struggling, and these the solutions for how we can get around this, and have the same result,” she says.
If that doesn’t work, and your boss is giving you major push back, a more extreme step needs to be taken.
“Sometimes you take the high road and it means looking for another job or leaving,” says Ginsberg-O’Sullivan.
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