All my life I’ve admired people who had the skill to say no to someone, without the asker feeling rebuffed. I wasn’t really good at it, because plainly saying No to someone’s face makes me cringe inside. But knowing how to say no is a valuable skill. Over the years, I’ve found ways to turn down someone or something, more gently but still effectively. Here you’ll find my 21 examples about how to say no.
How To Say No – A List Of 21 Examples
Over the years I’ve had to learn how to say No to others (including to my boss), to reserve the much needed time for the people and things I love and who help charge my battery.
Why? Being a woman who likes to take care of herself but who is also a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, AND has to work for her living, time was definitely not my friend. Because it was always absent when I needed it most. The result: at one point I was on the verge of collapsing, so I knew this couldn’t go on.
How To Say No: Create Time To Consider The Request
One of the most valuable steps in learning how to say no, is to give yourself time to consider a request. Usually, my first response these days is to say: let me think about it, I’ll come back to you (in an hour, at the end of the day, tomorrow, et cetera).
This allows me to ignore my first impulse to please the other person and helps me connect with my own needs. Do I have time for this? Do I have something else planned? Will it energize me or drain me out? If my honest answer is No, I’ll browse the list below to find a gentle way to deliver the message.
21 Examples Of Saying No
1) I can’t help you with this, but I could help you with something else.
Make sure that’ll only take up 5 minutes of your time.
2) At this moment I cannot take on any other responsibilities. Next time, please.
Talents know their limitations.
3) I’m not comfortable saying Yes because I intended to do something else.
Sitting on the porch all evening watching the sunset.
4) I really hate craft projects/moving/talking in public. I’m sorry, I promised myself not to say Yes to those requests anymore.
Look friendly when you say this.
5) My agenda is fully booked.
With lunch dates.
6) I have to plan more free time, otherwise, I will collapse.
No one will contradict you here.
7) I’d rather say No than underdeliver.
Everybody knows you never underdeliver, but this could be the first time am I right?
8) I already have to balance my attention between too many different things.
Sleeping in AND reading that exciting book.
9) I’m unable to attend.
Having dinner with your friend is also very important.
10) I don’t have any experience on that topic and right now, I don’t want to invest in a new skill.
Can’t argue there.
11) Oh, you are much better at that!
Many people ask for help because they’re insecure about themselves.
12) I’m not the best person to ask for this task, it’s not my best quality.
Taking care of the neighbors’ hamster is not a good idea if you don’t know the difference between a guinea pig and a rabbit.
13) Right now I have to focus on my family.
If you don’t want to participate in endless meetings.
14) Right now I have to focus on my work.
If you don’t want to participate in boring social gatherings.
15) I promised my (husband/child/mother/shrink) not to do these things anymore.
Sometimes, hiding behind someone else is totally fine.
16) I know somebody who is much better at this than I am.
This will serve two purposes: one person is helped and another one will gain some experience.
17) I can’t help you right now, but at the end of next week, you’ll be the first.
Only use this one if you are sure it will be too late.
18) I’m afraid to take this on, this is really not my strong point.
No one will force you.
29) I’m in between projects and I have too many loose ends that need my attention.
You want to clear out your desk drawer, why not enjoy the few quiet days at work?
20) No, I’d rather not.
Very clear and sometimes good enough.
21) I’m sorry, but it’s just not going to work out.
BONUS: Simply ignore the request.
Sometimes this is enough and things work out without you.
How To Say No When You Always Say Yes
Do you still experience guilt when declining a request, or is a person very pushy and the above examples don’t work for you? You might want to read some background information by reading How To Say No When You always Say Yes or by reading The Art Of Saying No by Damon Zahariades.
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