So I've been living in another country for 10 years, and I've been working with a client for about 2 years, and about 6 months ago I made a mistake, I agreed to prepare a drink from my home country every two weeks for the entire team (15 members).

I've been doing this for few months, but I'm really fed up, I do not like to prepare food or drink, and I accepted that by telling myself it will be the case for 2 or 3 months, but it's been six months, and every two weeks, I'm reminded that I have to prepare this drink from my manager and other members of the team. Sometimes I refuse, sometimes I deliberately forget to bring the ingredients but they keep reminding me all the time and I want it to stop.

The preparation takes me about 30 minutes and my managers are ok with that.

Question:

How can I refuse tactfully and tell them that I do not want to prepare this drink anymore? (Maybe I can do it once every 2 or 3 months, but not every 2 or 3 weeks). I just don't want to be sound rude.

put on hold as unclear what you're asking by Cashbee, Suimon, GretchenV, avazula, sphennings Dec 6 at 16:28

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  • What interpersonal skill do you need help with? Why do you think 'simply telling them so' will not work? As it stands, this is basically a phrasing request ("How do I say this?"), which is considered off-topic here. You can fix that by narrowing down your goal that you want to achieve while providing more information to why you have problems with it. Thank you – Cashbee Dec 6 at 10:46
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    @Cashbee 1) I mentioned in my question what i already tried,(refusing sometimes, and deliberatly forget some other times), so 'simply telling them so' didn't work. 2) i already said in the question that i want these requests to stop and i want to do so tactfully. i really don't understand why you see a problem in my question?! – Dhon Joe Dec 6 at 10:56
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    @Astralbee i am self employed and they are my client – Dhon Joe Dec 6 at 13:33
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    Hey, just to clarify, you need help to be more assertive while not being rude (because you are afraid to lose them as clients)? Or do you want something else? – Noon Dec 6 at 13:42
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    So, what did you actually say/do in your last attempts of refusal? And are they aware of your wish of not making drinks anymore, and still forced you to do it somehow, or do you think they just did not understand you (either because you were not clear enough or there was some misinterpretation)? – Cashbee Dec 6 at 14:19
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would not say "no". Like you do for many work or "work-related" requests, you don't point out a problem, but provide people with a solution.

How can I refuse tactfully and tell them that I do not want to prepare this drink anymore?

I would try and make everybody happy: 1. they have the drink 2. I don't have to do it alone/always anymore.

How's that? Well, as they seem to like your local beverage, teach them how to make it!

What this will do is: 1. show that you're concerned with being nice and team-work 2. offer solutions rather than problems. You don't say "no", you say "yes! ... (my way)".

From there, you say you'd like to share with them, and teach them. Add a little smile and some humor to the recipe too; i.e. but what if I have to go tomorrow? you'll get this drink by yourself, and can cheer to my [ whatever ]. You'll still have the good moments for/with them, with less to do.

This is not only based upon personal experience (when working in the USA with many different cultures, with used to do that, teach/educate each other with our singularities). But it also applies the well-known "give a man a fish, he'll eat for the day; teach a man how to fish, he'll eat every day..."

I noticed that you called them a "client", not an "employer". Being self-employed makes the situation quite different from that if you were under a contract of employment.

When you work for an employer you normally have a "job description" which defines what you do for them, but nearly always includes something to the effect of "ad-hoc" tasks, which is vague and can mean anything else relating to the job. Take for example a personal assistant, secretary, or an office junior - these roles are clearly administrative jobs and will mostly involve office work, and yet in many places of work will be asked to bring drinks to their boss throughout the day, or perhaps prepare drinks for visiting clients. They would accept it as part of the job.

However, many self-employed persons like yourself rely on the loyalty of clients for income and will do a certain amount of "entertaining" of clients. This could involve taking clients for dinner occasionally or buying them a gift at holidays. Many clients expect this, and consider these things as rewards for loyalty.

In my job, I enjoy a measure of protection because of the employment laws of the country in which I live, as well as the fact my large employer has a proper human resource policy and dedicated department. My managers cannot force me to do anything unreasonable because they are beheld to the same employment policy that I am. I would quite comfortably go to my manager and say something like: "The expectation of me to prepare drinks for my colleagues has to stop. I feel that I am being treated differently from my colleagues that have the same role as me because of my nationality. Can I please ask you to ensure that I am not asked to do this non-contractual task again?"

However, as you are self-employed and these are your clients, I think you need to ask yourself what the consequences would be if you stopped doing this for them, no matter how polite. Are you easily replaceable? Is this not "entertaining clients", as described above? (Incidentally, in my country "entertaining clients" is a tax-deductible expense! You could actually save a bit of money by keeping record of the costs of the ingredients!)

If you are certain that you want it to end, you have considered the possible consequences and you are not afraid them, then the most polite way I can think of would be to say something like:

I'm glad you enjoy my drink. Getting the ingredients to make it on such a regular basis has become very time-consuming and something of a chore for me. I will try to surprise you with it on special occasions but I may not be able to make it every two weeks as I have been doing.

This gives them a valid reason for the change, and does not rule out completely you ever doing it for them again in the future. It may even be more well received if you surprise them on occasions, as it will be more of a "special treat" than just something routine.

  • wow, i didn't even know it existed. i don't rely in the loyality of the employer and i'm also protected by the employement laws in the country, i'm not afraid of them. that said, i like your idea of telling them that i will do it on special occasions, but not every 2 weeks. – Dhon Joe Dec 6 at 14:10

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