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'My good work is only being rewarded with more work. How do I speak up for myself?'

By BṺM TENORIO JR., The Philippine STAR Published May 01, 2022 6:52 pm

Each week, PhilSTAR L!fe addresses a reader's concern about relationships, career, and anything they want to talk about through its advice column: Asking for a Friend.

Dear L!fe friend, 

I make it a point to give my 101% in everything I do—it’s a trait that continues to make me a top performer at work. I love my job, but lately, I haven’t had time for other things besides work because my boss keeps on adding more items to my to-do list. It’s like he doesn’t care about my overwhelming pile of tasks each day because he knows I’ll always deliver.

While it’s a good thing that my boss trusts me and my strengths, he’s been only rewarding my good work with more work. My colleagues have told me he’s abusing my efficiency, and I didn’t realize this until now that I’m feeling tired and burned out. How do I speak up for myself without offending my boss? 

—Overworked Girl 

Dear Overworked Girl,

With your work ethic, any boss would like to have you on his or her team. It is always a delight to find someone who gives her 101% at work. Being a top performer at the workplace is always an asset of the worker. Normally, it works to his or her advantage. Say, receiving promotions, incentives, and the likes. 

Your trustworthiness is your biggest strength. Many employees are good. But not all these good employees can be trusted. That you are being tapped by your boss—even rewarding your efficient performance with more work—means you are a trustworthy person. Maybe many others can do the extra job being assigned to you but a boss normally gives the task to the one he or she thinks is reliable and dependable. You may not recognize it but the extra load being given to you is somehow your muse to achieve the best version of you. 

Now, your being a reliable, dependable employee, however, is causing you to “feel tired and burned out.” You want to say “No” this time but you don’t know how to say it without sounding like you are “offending my boss.” (By the way, it should be yourself to determine whether or not you’re experiencing burnout. Just be wary about your co-workers saying your efficiency is being “abused” by your boss. That’s their perspective. Only you can say if the trust afforded you at the workplace is bordering on being abusive on the part of your superior. Some bosses tend to tap the same person to execute the job for the simple reason that they are of the same wavelength, same intelligence, same work ethics.) 

First, ask permission from your boss for a cordial one-on-one meeting. This will set the tone that it is not going to be a casual discussion. Anything that concerns your welfare should not be casually done. Don’t prolong this concern because it will soon be reflected in your work output.

Once you are already in front of your boss, begin your discourse with gratitude. Please thank your boss for the blessings of work that he/she has been giving you. Thank him/her for the trust and confidence he/she has in you. But you should also be honest that with your workload, your body and spirit get tired, too. And this leads to burnout. 

Assure your boss that you want to always achieve your optimum best at work but your excellence will be compromised because, as you said, “I’m feeling tired and burned out.” Say it with utmost honesty and tact. Let words come from your heart. 

Respectfully ask your boss if you can be given some leeway or sort of a break so you can continue to be more productive at work. Don’t forget to mention to your boss that he or she inspires you to be the best version of yourself. 

Any well-meaning boss will understand you if you speak from the heart. And when you are a boss yourself one day, you know better what to do. Or what not. 

I hope you don’t get to be overworked soon. Take care of yourself.

Your L!fe friend,


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