Service of I Refuse

August 7th, 2023

Categories: Cheating, Draw Line in the Sand, Insider Trading, No, Plagerism, PR, Refuse, Service Personality

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

For at least two years the topic of high-profile people refusing to do what a boss or superior has asked of them has been bandied about dinner tables nationwide. We’ve seen examples of vibrant lines in the sand.

A colleague was approached to market a powerful organization he didn’t approve of. The accompanying fee was juicy yet he passed without regret. I’ve refused to do things asked by clients, bosses and high-powered acquaintances. “Big deal,” you say. That’s because you’re not a people pleaser. Those who succeed in service businesses usually are. My husband often wondered aloud how I could take some of the things that crossed my path in my PR role. He felt plenty of pressure in his work but the difference was that folks wanted what he was selling. He was an international banker.

Someone asked me to share insider information that the agency I worked for had access to. That was easy if awkward. I just glared and didn’t answer. In another instance, a client ordered me not to go to the press room to greet the editors and reporters I’d invited to his event. It was the most flagrant of many disagreements between us. A whistle blower told me this client signed my name to material I’d not written and distributed it. I resigned that account.

When in the days of mailing press kits a boss told me to follow up by “calling all media we haven’t heard from to learn if they received the package.” I never did. I thought, “That’s what return addresses are for and a busy person doesn’t want to hear that stupid question.” If there was important new information to share, that was a different story.

One boss, trying to save money, told me to use a line drawing from a book to accompany press materials. She’d deleted the credit I’d placed by the image. After a brief discussion I suggested we remove my name as a contact on the press releases. The drawing/book credit remained as did my name as contact. Another time I argued against a special activity in conjunction with an event proposed by a client. The activity remained on the schedule but appeared in none of the press materials I’d written. The client approved them all.

Nobody lives or dies as a result of all but one of my protests or silence. Imagine the potential risk if you disagree with policy and you are an air traffic controller, surgeon, emergency room doctor, nurse, pilot, medical researcher, teacher or politician to name a few essential occupations.

Are there instances in which you have drawn a line in sand and refused to answer a question or to do something that didn’t seem right even if a boss has ordered it? Are there examples in which you give a pass to someone who goes against their better judgment and follows a boss or client’s faulty instruction?

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay  

6 Responses to “Service of I Refuse”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    I’m no saint and prefer to weasel and/or talk myself out of touchy situations, unless there’s a principle too great to ignore. My loyalty is to myself which means doing, to the best of my ability, what I see as both right and logical.

  2. Deb Wright Said:

    As a teacher, I flew under the radar often! Luckily, I had two principals who knew I was doing a good job. However, the last two years, there was an assistant principal who was enforcing the ruling–“no child left behind ” (thank you George W). What it turned out to be was the order to teach to the test. Well, I refused to lock step and do that. I was sure that if I taught what I knew the pupils needed, they would do well on their state tests. I was on borrowed time; I was in the school library, reading and responding to my students journals. “Anna” sat down next to me and asked what I was doing. I told her but I could tell that she did not approve. After that, she would pop into my classroom often. She was on a mission to see what I was doing. Since I retired at 60, I did what I wanted to teach my students. I think they decided not to pursue pushing me to do what the other teachers were doing since I was on the way out.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A close relative used to say “I only have 4 cheeks.” In my line of work there are times you need twice that many or more but at one point the proverbial straw —if related to something sleazy or inappropriate—might break the dromedary’s back much sooner.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You were extremely brave and your students all the better for it. Thank goodness for people like you.

  5. Dawn Gour Said:

    Dear Jeanne,
    Being the eternal people pleaser, it was tough for me to draw a line in the sand or place boundaries on what people could ask me to do. I thought saying “yes” to everything meant, I was going to progress in my career and get promotions and raises. When none of that happened, I learned to ask intelligent questions, by raising my hand and helping the boss when he needed help, how is this project going to help my career? Am I going to learn new skills or form partnerships with cross-functional teams? If not, then I won’t volunteer to help him when he’s stuck and looking for help.
    I don’t need the extra hours of work, exhaustion, and lack of recognition or reward.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There’s a saying that I think originated in the military which is “Never volunteer.” However, I think that as a knee-jerk reaction, that is NOT a good plan.

    As for getting a promotion, once you have proved your worth, you need to ask for one. Countless studies show that men are really good at doing that and women not so much.

    Strategic volunteering as you do is a good plan. On occasion, to help a boss out of a scrape can serve you well if it doesn’t mean 15-hour workdays for little return. Being taken advantage of is never a good feeling.

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