How to Say No
Time, effort, money, and other resources are precious. Sometimes people ask things of us and we want to refuse but it’s hard to say no. Here are some ideas for how to say no and still be polite and pleasant.
Someone wants you to buy something their child is selling for an organization:
Thank you for the offer, but I’m going to pass this time around. It’s great that Tyler is so active in Boy Scouts – I hope he has a great year.
Someone wants you to work for them:
As much as I’d like the extra money, I need the day away from work more. Thanks for understanding.
Someone wants to borrow money:
I’m sorry to say the answer is no this time. Have you thought of selling some items or maybe picking up a side hustle?
Someone wants you to do their share of a work project:
My boss has set my priorities for the future and this project wasn’t on the list. I can’t do your share of the project but I can give you some ideas of how to accomplish it if that’s helpful.
Someone wants to borrow your car:
I don’t loan my car out to anyone in order to avoid potential problems. I hope you understand.
Someone wants to stay at your house:
As much as I’d enjoy a visit, I am not hosting guests right now. I’d love to see you when you’re in town however…
Someone wants you to go in on a gift for someone else:
I’m actually going to be doing something on my own for Jim’s birthday. Thank you for including me though!
Someone wants your Netflix password:
I’d love to help you out, but I don’t want any trouble with my account. I hope you understand.
Someone wants you to go to lunch (dinner/drinks):
Hey, thank you for the invite – it sounds fun. However, I’m going to pass this time. Have a great time.
As you can see all of these refusals are direct and brief. Many are a good-bad-good sandwich, meaning they start out with a complimentary statement, then the “no”, and then another positive statement. This approach often softens the blow and establishes you as pleasant and polite.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all about helping others and being there when our fellow humans are in need. However, there are instances when you need to place the interests of you and your family first. That’s the time for a polite no.