Three steps that will make you better at navigating unreasonable requests at work

Imagine this. The CEO of the company you work for calls and pleads with you to stay after you gave notice. Offering you an upgraded phone (that rings 24/7) a newer car, 25% increase in salary and a promotion (that you know you’ll never get because every time they’ve replaced you the person leaves stressed out after 3 months, which leaves you back where you started doing the original job). Yes that was me! I’d met the increasing demands doing the role fit for two consultants.  My personal relationship suffered and it nearly broke me. But I realized before it impacted my health that I needed to set clear healthy boundaries. 

 1. First define your own clear boundaries and let them be known. 

·     Decide on the number of hours you will work.

·     Under what circumstances and conditions you’ll work overtime.

·     Know under what circumstances you can or can’t do your best work – what conditions do you need to do your best work? What conditions prevent you from doing your best work?

Why set clear boundaries and let them be known.

·     They are an effective way to reduce ambiguity or misinterpretations so everyone knows where they stand. 

·     People are less likely to cross your boundaries if they know what they are up front.

·     Clear boundaries provide a set of guidelines for the way you want people to treat you. 

 2. Respond and Engage:

·     Respond and Engage: Consider why the request is being made, and ask for clarity. eg Tell me more about why you need this done.”  Once you understand the intention and motivation you can evaluate the information and engage in meaningful dialogue. 

·     React: When we are unprepared our natural reaction is to react in the moment from our emotions: “I’m overwhelmed with what I already have to get done” or “I’m really stressed out” or “I have too much to do.” Or from fear of losing your job, demotion, not getting a promotion and therefore react in a way you consider appropriate to avoid loss. This approach often requires you to give up or compromise your values and principles.

Why respond and engage vs. react.

·     It allows you to honor your values and principles.

·     Gives you more information to make better decisions based on your core values. What is important and meaningful to you? 

·     It opens the space for negotiation and options when the other person feels heard and understood. 

3.  Be prepared: practice and get comfortable with different ways to respond. This can make it feel more natural when you need to call on them.  

(a) If the request takes higher priority than the work you have been allocated and you are concerned you wont be able to fulfill your original commitments. A response could be “I take my commitments seriously and I appreciate this work takes priority. With the current time constraints I will not be able to get both done on time. What resource’s do you have to support me so I can complete both commitments. Or “ I can make this a priority and that would mean the other work will be two days later than we agreed” 

(b) If the unreasonable request is from another department.  “I’m fully scheduled “or “I don’t have any extra capacity right now.” “I committed to completing this report for my boss by our deadline of 5pm tomorrow.”

(c)  If the request has unreasonable short time frame. “I take the quality of the work seriously and to give this project the attention it will require, I will need two additional days.” 

In a nutshell - If our boundaries are unclear, loose or non-existent, how can we expect others to be clear and respectful of what behaviour is acceptable and what is not.  We teach people how to treat us by what we tolerate. 

Three ways to make tough feedback easier.

You're sitting there wondering if you should lean into leading that difficult conversation you'd rather not have until you absolutely have to. You're not alone!

You could wait, and what do you think would happen if you did? Would waiting improve the situation or could it make it worse? You know it could escalate, because you’re not in control of what he's thinking or saying about you or the situation to other team members, your customers on social media, even publicly. The situation could also be affecting his productivity and your team's morale.

What if you leaned into the conversation with an intention of making a positive difference for you and intending a positive benefit for him? When you intend a good outcome for him it shows in your approach from the outset. At a fundamental level, we are more open when we feel the other person is looking to achieve a positive outcome. This simple approach requires you to experiment with a shift in mindset from what do I need to what’s best for everyone concerned. Ready!

  1. Firstly ask yourself what positive difference YOU want from the conversation.

  2. Then consider what positive benefits you intend for him/her from your interaction.

  3. Now consider the big picture and what the positive outcome would be for your organization.

Here’ an example of a double positive intention when giving tough feedback on poor team management.

You may find the positive difference for you is staying connected in a way that allows him/her to stay open to changing his approach to managing his team so they feel inspired and motivated to achieve a higher level of performance. The positive benefit you intend for him could be his own insight into the negative impact he has on his team and their motivation. The big picture, after having this insight, is that he wants to change his behavior, which benefits his team, you and the organization with improved performance.  Remember your thoughts and beliefs about what’s possible in each situation drive your intentions that drive your actions.

When we lean in with a double positive intention it helps us shape and navigate the conversation for the intended outcome and keeps everyone in the conversation. We naturally feel safer when we feel the other person genuinely has our best interests at heart.

When I lean into leading a challenging conversation and genuinely have good intentions, whether I am apologizing, giving feedback or resolving a difference of opinion, I’ve found I have more successful outcomes in my interactions. Leaning in allows me to assess the situation so I can resolve issues before they escalate.

Here are a couple of examples of me leaning to conversations with a double positive intention.

  1. Leadership Coaching Session

  • My positive intention for me; Prepare for our call with information from my client. Take a moment to clear my mind and be fully present to what's showing up for him. Remain curious and aware of what’s not being said and notice where my energy is. Use pull questions that connect him internally so he can draw on his own wisdom. I also want to offer insight that takes him beyond where he is to increase his awareness.

  • My positive intended benefit for my client; He chooses the priority for our time together, and feels he’s listened to and understood. That he feels supported in expressing his ideas and thoughts and gaining clarity. He chooses the next steps for him to move forward and take action.

  • Big Picture: He has an insight and finds a way to express the message in his own words. He makes progress using his own insight and strengths to agree on actions. His team benefits from his new approach to communication, which in turn increases collaboration and motivation.


2. Talent Management

  • My positive intention for me; I needed to let a team member go after constant support and training because she was struggling with her role my organization.

  • My positive intended benefit for my employee; that she leaves the organization with her self-esteem intact. I reinforced her strengths and encouraged her to apply for another role that better suited her skills and experience.

  • Big Picture; I found another team member who had the skills and experience to do the role well and helped with her resume and she found a job better suited to her skill set and experience.

Your conversational currency in this connection economy is elevated once you become good at double positive intention because you’ll be recognized as a leader that genuinely cares and fosters an open environment of collaboration and co-creation.

What about you? Which tough conversation do you need to have that will make a positive difference and offer a positive benefit?


It's time for you to lean into leading the conversation and practice with positive intent for you and positive benefit for them. Chose a conversation you know you needed to have and didn't. Give it a shot and lean in with a conversation that carries a lower perceived personal risk first and is prepared to be surprised at what’s possible for you both using this 3-way approach. You're invited to connect with me here if you need extra support.

Gael Bevan is an experienced, PCC- ICF Credentialed, Certified Leadership Coach. She specializes in strengthening communication with virtual and remote teams, building future leaders at every level, through shared understanding, a common language and skill development. She learned how to communcate with impact and mastered the art of authentic conversation

What is Coaching? “Leadership and Executive Coaching”

“Raising individual and team performance while improving well-being, through facilitating personal and professional growth and goal attainment faster.”

That’s my definition in nutshell, from my experience of coaching hundreds of successful Coaches and Leaders internationally over the past couple of decades. 

Coaching is client focused – you the client chooses/decides the goals and challenges to work on and create your own action steps. When you are in a coaching relationship you take responsibility, accountability and ownership for your development, growth and actions.

  • Coaching generates new learning. 
  • Supports change.
  • Unlocks critical thinking and problem solving skills that improve good judgment and decision-making.
  • Offers the opportunity to practice and develop new skills and test your assumptions in a safe environment, during those awkward times at the beginning before you’ve mastered them. *The biggest reason people don’t develop new skills is, because they don’t want to look stupid or incompetent. When we’re learning a new skill we feel like we’re  bumbling along and with no fluency of flow, so we stick with what we know. It may be a blind spot we’re unaware of where underlying issues are impacting the team negatively or we know we need help and we’re slow to commit, waiting until situations escalate!

“Acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice and rapid unequivocal feedback about correctness of thought and action.” ~ Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and SlowCoaching can create a significant positive variance in the performance of individuals and their team, which contributes to overall personal and business growth.

Personally I love working with leaders because they have the ability to directly impact and make a significant difference to all of the peoples lives they lead. When a leader makes the decision and commits to raising their individual performance, for example mastering giving and receiving feedback that cultivates growth. The person receiving or giving feedback feels valued and this raises their contribution and level of engagement in the task. I’ve found they will also speak well of the leader, which opens channels for other team members to be receptive to giving and feedback creating a culture of growth. I’ve seen this culture of growth and open dialogue permeate beyond the confines of the company and attract top talent into the organisation.

Here’s what a CEO sent in a note to me after a few months of coaching.

“ Your support has been immeasurable both personally and professionally and has also been a great help to all of those who we ordinarily would have driven completely and utterly insane.”   I’m constantly blown away by similar feedback from leaders.

Coaching runs deep in my core and became part of my wedding vows, where I committed to support Bob to be the best person that he could be. We visit that theme often in our daily lives. We became each other “lighthouse” as we call it, because there are times when we need the other to be our guiding light and know that we have each other’s back.

*Note: An ICF professional coach is trained in coaching behaviours’ and competencies, bound by the professional standards and ethics of their professional independent body. They are also required to consistently gain education credits to sustain their credential status.

Gael Bevan is an experienced, ICF Credentialed, Certified Leadership and Executive Coach. After decades of leading talent and coaching senior directors and executive coaches, she works with CE0s leaders and executives to communicte with impact. 

Authenticity - when does your authentic voice disappear?

I am inspired and deeply moved by the authenticity in Jake Bailey’s speech and saddened that he has been told he hasn’t long to live.

Why is it that I come through for others and myself in those make or break moments and then at times revert back to what keeps me safe? I grew up thinking I had to protect myself from what others might think or say about me. I realized the wall I’d built around me to keep myself safe was also keeping out the joy, deep connections and rich experiences in my life.

I often do my best work when I feel I have nothing to lose. What is it I think I’ll lose when time after time people are inspired when I reveal myself?

I’ve been told I inspired them when I followed my dream to build a Coaching business in another country and move there. When I almost went bankrupt, or when I left a bad relationship and when I was scared and most vulnerable.

Writing about my worst moments in my Coaching business at the request of my client to share with his consultants was confronting for me in a very raw way. I was surprised his consultants were inspired, by my fortitude, persistence and innovative ways of rebuilding the business. Partnering, bringing in shareholders and creating different share values. (In NZ we call that Kiwi ingenuity)

Let's talk about going there! Being real and saying what needs to be said for the collective good.

  •           When I knew I was going to lose a client and told them they needed to step up and take responsibility for the work they did. They ended up staying. It’s what they wanted all along.
  •           Not getting results with a client and sayings lets call it a day. I get an email next day saying “you will not give up on me until I give up on myself and I have not given up on myself, I have made progress.” He became successful once we put it out there.

Do you find yourself, at the end of your tether and going places you’ve always want to and dare not for the perceived fear of the backlash? Only to find out it was exactly what you both needed all the time and neither one of you would go there.

I feel compelled to ask the question. Why did Jake Bailey change his speech (because he had nothing to lose!) and why didn’t he write that same gratitude speech if he hadn’t been told he didn’t have long to live? He had it in him! Why do we sometimes find our authentic heartfelt voice, when we have nothing to lose or feel we need to protect ourselves from perceived risk of loss?

Thanks for the inspiration Jake!

“The ego invented the idea that protecting ourselves would help us thrive, however it only leads to (at best) survival. Thriving requires that you let yourself be seen." ~Jennifer Hough


Now it’s your time to get real and exercise your authentic voice. When you’re right on the edge and want to back off, remember what you’re giving up is the experience of feeling that feeling when it works! You know what I mean when I say you’ve felt it before in those moments of clarity and courage. You have it in you, we all do. Be bold! You're invited to connect with me here if you'd like more help.

Gael Bevan is an experienced, PCC- ICF Credentialed, Certified Leadership Coach. She specializes in strengthening communication with virtual and remote teams, building future leaders at every level, through shared understanding, a common language and skill development. She mastered the art of authentic conversation and is skillful when it comes to the powerful feedback that cultivates improvement and growth.


Two Entrepreneurs get more done in less time

I met Alexei and Steve two young entrepreneur’s at their office after developing the core concepts of the mentoring program for mentors and guides that would be beta tested with university students and their mentors in an online platform.

We charted the coaching concepts on the whiteboard together, and Alexei organized all the information into the 7-week program

We had to get board approval for the program, which was starting within the week and has the entire content on the web within 2 days. Our board members were in three different time zones.

Alexei used his iPhone to text a photo of the program to the board members for approval. Wow!!! we had approval within minutes. It totally blew me away. I would have spent hours putting the material into a presentation with an overview, getting it emailed by the next day, and probably would’ve waited 1-2 days for approval.

We utilized the extra time at dinner with the CEO from the top mentoring agency to learn more about teen protocol in mentoring. Steve called his cricket coach and got out of his training and we had a great night sharing stories and learning protocols from the best.

In my old world of thinking (no cell phone on in meetings) that would never have happened with the speed and ease it did. Their thought process in the way they communicated and used technology was what made the difference in this situation.

By the next day, Steve had all the research material for each step of the program online and Alexei was almost finished the web side of the program for critiquing.

Learning from young entrepreneurs like Alexei and Steve was fun and rewarding, reaping results much quicker. I introduced the concept to my client’s and they were receptive to text photos of their whiteboard, their plans, vision, and ideas regularly. We get connected and relevant in seconds.

What about you? What have your learned by being around young Entrepreneur’s and achieving more in less time?


It’s time for you to lean in and to take what you’ve learned about doing more with less. Start with one task that you know you can do in less time with the same if not better results and find how much time you can free up.

Gael Bevan is an experienced, PCC- ICF Credentialed, Certified Leadership Coach. She specializes in strengthening communication with virtual and remote teams, building future leaders at every level, through shared understanding, a common language and skill development. She mastered the art of authentic conversation and is skillful when it comes to the powerful feedback that cultivates improvement and growth.