Q: I’m a receptionist at a small office, and every single day at least one of the female employees asks me to run a personal errand-pick up dry cleaning, get a late afternoon yogurt, return a tape, you name it. I’m really too busy for this, but I don’t want to come across as lazy or disagreeable. How do I politely say no?
A: If these sorts of duties are not part of your job description, you need to turn down requests with a firm tone. Be pleasant, even empathetic-“I wish I could help you out, but I barely have time for my own errands”-but do take a stand. If someone persists, then it’s time to say running for personal errands is not part of your job. Try not to get huffy or act insulted-and if anyone tries to intimidate you, refer her to your boss.