9 Professional Ways to Tell Someone to Back Off at Work

Do you want to know the best ways to ask someone to give you space?

Perhaps you’re worried that saying “back off” is rude or unprofessional.

Well, it’s a good thing you came across this article, then!

After all, we’ll teach you how to politely tell someone to back off when you need your space.

Is It Rude to Say “Back Off”?

It is rude to say “back off.” It’s also unprofessional, so there’s really no reason to include something like this in an email.

With that said, the phrase is still correct. However, you should use it in text messages or spoken situations when you’re unhappy that someone is involved in your business when they shouldn’t be.

So, check out the following example to learn a bit more about it:

I’m going to need you to back off from this subject. Please let me handle it more on my own.


  • It’s a simple yet effective way to tell someone to give you space.
  • It’s honest and shows you’re unhappy.


  • It’s rude in almost every context.
  • It’s never professional enough to include in an email.

Well, you can’t use “back off” in emails. That much has already been made clear! But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck! There are plenty of options out there.

Keep reading to learn how to tell someone to back off professionally. We’ve gathered a list of some of the best synonyms to help you understand more about what works.

What to Say Instead of “Back Off”

  • Please give me some space
  • I need some room to work
  • Allow me some independence
  • Respect my boundaries
  • I require some privacy
  • I need to focus
  • Could I have some distance?
  • I need time to concentrate
  • Please refrain from intruding

1. Please Give Me Some Space

You can use “please give me some space” if you’re wondering how to tell someone off in a professional way.

It’s ideal for a formal setting because it’s clear, polite, and professional. Also, its directness leaves no room for confusion, ensuring clear communication of the need for independence.

Any time you use “please,” you add a sense of politeness to the phrase as well. That’s why we like including it here.

Feel free to use it when writing to an employee. It suggests that they’ve bugged you one too many times, and you’d appreciate it if they could back off for a while.

Also, you can check out this example to learn more:

Dear Hayley,

Please give me some space while I work on this project.

I’ll get back to you as soon as I have something positive to note.

All the best,
Ryan Scott

2. I Need Some Room to Work

You can tell a coworker to back off by writing “I need some room to work.” Generally, this allows you to say “back off” in a nice way when you need some time to figure things out.

For the most part, including this phrase works best when speaking in person. You’ll often have more luck with it when a coworker attempts to distract you while you’re busy.

It’s respectful and polite. So, a good coworker won’t be too offended if you use something like this to ask them for some space.

You can also check out these examples to learn a bit more:

I need some room to work while I’m doing this. So, please try to avoid distracting me.

I need some room to work if that’s okay. I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve completed this, though.

3. Allow Me Some Independence

Next, it’s good to use “allow me some independence.” This shows you how to tell someone to back off at work.

For instance, it can work when contacting your boss. If your employer is usually quite overbearing, a phrase like this will go a long way.

After all, it shows that you’re entitled to your freedom, and you’d appreciate it if your boss would stop trying to intrude.

Most of the time, your employer will accept this. It’s certainly a respectful way to tell them to back off without being too rude or impolite.

So, feel free to review this email example to learn a bit more:

Dear Mr. Stevenson,

Allow me some independence while I work through this project.

I’ll be in touch soon when I have more information about it.

Thank you so much,
Ben Dickens

4. Respect My Boundaries

You will also benefit from saying “respect my boundaries.” This is a common way to remind someone to back off when you need a bit of time to yourself.

For instance, let’s say an employee wants your attention. However, you’re far too busy with your workload at the minute to give them any assistance.

Well, you can use this phrase to be polite and formal. It shows you have set firm boundaries in the workplace, and you’d appreciate it if your employees would follow them.

You can review this example if you still need help with it:

Dear Abigail,

Please respect my boundaries and allow me to work.

I do not have time to assist you with your project at this moment.

Bear Browne

5. I Require Some Privacy

Next, we recommend using “I require some privacy” when you want to focus on your work.

It’s a formal way to say “back off” that shows you don’t want someone interrupting you while you’re focusing.

For the most part, this works well when writing to colleagues. It suggests that they often rely on you to help them with things, but it’s finally time for you to focus on your own work.

Don’t worry about offending them, either! This phrase is far from rude, so it works really well in most business settings.

Check out the following email example to learn more:

Dear Scott,

I require some privacy while I work through these sheets.

Please give me some time to do this on my own terms.

Best wishes,
Juliette Stevenson

6. I Need to Focus

You can be a bit more subtle by saying “I need to focus.” This is a simplistic way to let someone know they should back off and let you focus on your work.

For the most part, it’s a professional way to tell someone to back off.

So, you can use it when emailing your boss. If they keep emailing you to find out how you’re getting on, a phrase like this will hopefully remind them to leave you alone for a while.

It’s polite and sincere, so it’ll go a long way when you’re trying to be as respectful as possible.

Check out the following email sample to learn a bit more:

Dear Ms. Martha,

I need to focus on this work, so I’d appreciate it if you left me to it.

I’ll be back in touch once I’ve made some headway.

All the best,
Dom Tyler

7. Could I Have Some Distance?

You can also write “could I have some distance?” This is a great formal question that shows you’d like someone to give you some time.

Every other synonym has been a statement so far.

So, using a question instead shows that you’re being polite and sincere. It suggests that you’d appreciate it if the recipient could give you some space.

It also shows that the recipient is free to decide whether they will back off. Since it’s a question, they could technically answer it with a “yes” or “ no.”

Here’s a helpful example to show you more about it:

Dear Joel,

Could I have some distance while I work through this?

It would be a huge help to me if you could let me get it done.

Greg Tanner

8. I Need Time to Concentrate

You can also use “I need time to concentrate” to remind someone to back off.

When someone gets involved in your business, it can be a distraction. This can make it much harder for you to complete an otherwise easy task.

So, keep things polite by using “I need time to concentrate.” It lets someone know respectfully to back off while you keep working on something.

So, you can review this email example to learn more:

Dear Ms. Riding,

I need time to concentrate on this if that’s okay.

I’ll send you an email once most of this has been completed, though.

George Connor

9. Please Refrain From Intruding

Finally, you can write “please refrain from intruding” in a formal email.

This lets someone know you have a specific process when completing tasks. It implies that you’d prefer it if they didn’t intrude on your workflow because it might ruin your quality.

So, it’s a good option when writing to a coworker.

After all, a coworker might not realize that they need to back off until you tell them to do so. Therefore, keeping it polite with a phrase like this is good practice.

So, check out this example to learn a bit more:

Dear Damian,

Please refrain from intruding on my process right now.

I have to get this done by the end of the week, and I’m running out of time.

All the best,
Max Rutherford