How to say no politely – 6 tips for professionals

Buffet got it correct when he claimed that saying no is what makes you successful. Denying little requests opens up your agenda to say yes to the correct opportunities. The ones that make a change in your career and that matter to you. If you decided to click on this article, you most likely have your inbox filled up with messages of colleagues asking you to give feedback for their work, team members wanting your support in their newest project, or cold pitches by salesperson that tell you to jump on a call with them. But straight up saying no can feel hard because you do not want to harm your reputation. No one wants to be the “ unmanageable knob ”, “ unreliable colleague ” or unapproachable. This kind of effigy can damage your career prospects.

Saying no does not have to be hard. We collected six ways for you to decline a request professionally and politely. You’ll learn how to finesse your tone to make a good impression, even when you have to disappoint someone. If you’re looking to boost your email efficiency, use Flowrite to send rejection emails in no time:

When to say no?

Before we go deeper into the tips, let ‘s look into when it makes sense to say no. Adam Grant had to learn the hard way whom he offers subscribe to – and which offers he chooses to decline. The american psychologist wrote a book about givers ‘ surprise success : people who systematically help others with no strings attached. After the New York Times magazine ran a cover report about his book Give and Take, his electronic mail inbox filled up with requests from people that asked Grant for all kinds of support. a much as accord might have wanted to help all of them, he had to learn the hard way that he ca n’t. He realized that being a giver did not mean being a people pleaser. Each yes comes with the price of saying no to early chances, including your unblock time and relaxation. To achieve work-life counterweight and be great at your job, you have to learn to say no to tasks, projects, and even opportunities that may not align with your short- and long-run goals. When you need to decide if you want to say yes or no to an opportunity, ask yourself : Am I closing the door on something, or am I opening the door for better opportunities ?

How to politely decline – 6 tips

1. Be concise and clear

“ If you want something done, ask a busy person. ” This celebrated proverb shows how being a responsive worker who takes over tasks well can lead you to requests piling up in your inbox. That ‘s why it ‘s so important sometimes to reject assignments and opportunities that are not top of your priority list. If you have to say no – be clear. You do n’t want to keep your counterpart wonder, specially if the undertaking at hand is time-sensitive. not even taking the time to sit down and decline in an e-mail can seem thoughtless and can close the door for future collaborations ( see peak 4 ). But there ‘s a remainder between being concise and being uncivil .
jason @
Hi Jason,

Sorry I cant.


jason @
Hi Jason,

unfortunately, at the here and now I do n’t have time to help you with this project.

I hope you find person else to support you.

Do you see the difference ? just a match more words, and the tone is a lot more respectful while hush giving a clear “ no ”. This leads us to the second tip.

2. Kill them with Kindness & Be Polite

Some people are scared to seem “ ill-bred ” or “ unhelpful ” when saying no. You can easily get that kind of reputation if you answer so fast and short that it comes off as harsh. But saying no can be elegant and even feel empowering to receive your message if you kill them with forgivingness. People want to feel seen and appreciated, even when you have to deny them their request. So let the other person feel good about themselves ! You might have heard of a “ denounce sandwich ” when giving feedback to an employee, but it besides works absolutely when you have to say no. A denounce sandwich works merely : You start on a convinced note “ This sounds like an interesting event ” ), tell them the bad message ( “ But unfortunately I wo n’t be able to attend as a loudspeaker. “ ), and goal with forgivingness ( “ I ‘m sure you ‘ll have a successful conference in any lawsuit ! ” ) Some formulations you want to use to be kind & civilized :

  • Thank you for thinking of me.
  • Sounds like a great project/event/idea, but this is not for us.
  • I don’t have enough time on my plate to offer you quality help.
  • “Sadly” or “unfortunately”

3. Give your Reasons – but without giving an opening

You might want to explain to the other person why this particular weekend or week does n’t work. Providing a abbreviated explanation can let the early person know that it ‘s not negligence but that you are merely unavailable. however, you do n’t need to feel compelled to offer your reasons if the person is a taker, aka person who takes your arm when you give them a hand. You want to keep your no deoxyadenosine monophosphate simple as potential with takers, not give them an opening to argue their way into your schedule.

lauren @
Hi Lauren,

This week is, unfortunately, already full moon of tasks.

lauren @
Dear Lauren,

Thank you therefore much for think of me. Given my stream workload, I ‘m ineffective to do a commodity job on your undertaking, and my other sour would suffer.

Thank you for understanding.

Best wishes,
In the first version, you risk the early person trying to talk you into helping anyways ( “ If this workweek does n’t work, we can constantly do next week. ” ). In contrast, the moment one clearly closes the door. Another simple solution is to write, “ I will let you know when and if I can. ” It changes the exponent dynamic and lets you reach out tothemwhen you have an opening rather of having them knocking on your door every sidereal day .

4. Keep the Door open

sometimes you have to say no, so you can say yes at the right meter. For example, you might have to say no to a project that does n’t fit your current career goals, so you can give an empowered yes when the correct project ends up on your desk. You do n’t want to burn bridges by declining an offer. A estimable relationship with your network is key in accelerating your career, then occasionally, you want to keep the door capable when you say no. “ I ‘m unavailable right immediately ” or “ I do n’t have the capacity at the moment ” are simple phrases to indicate that you ‘re clear for a like opportunity in the future. Use these formulations with care because you do n’t want to give the early person assumed hope that your no could finally turn into a yes. When your no is compromising and ductile, it can seem unreliable or dishonest. At the same time, it ‘s reasonable to state that while the answer may be no nowadays, things could change in the future .

5. Refer them to an Alternative

A bare referral can be a huge help for your counterpart. Introducing them to another person that can take over the job or that is even more desirable for the task can be worth taking your time, specially with people you work with hanker term. even suggesting another clock in your own calendar can be a compromise you can agree on. If you get the same requests repeatedly, you can collect a document with your most common referrals ( books, people, courses, etc. ) to make it easier for you. If you want to learn how to connect two people, check out our blog post “ How to introduce two people over electronic mail. ”

6. Understand people’s strategies

“ The pushful ones ” normally get what they want in life. You might have experienced this yourself : You hired the freelance who checked in again and again, not because they are estimable but because they were persistent. People have their strategies to get what they want. If you want to avoid signing up for things that do not move you forward in your career or business, you need to be aware of these strategies – specially when it comes to sales. Some of the most common strategies to get you to say yes :

  • Urgency: “This offer expires at midnight and will never come back.”
  • Social Pressure: “Other people have donated X much.”
  • Free Offers: “Start your free trial.”

When we understand them, we can besides let go of our clamant response of “ well, in that shell … ” and analyze what is sincerely beneficial for us .

How to say no in any situation – 20 phrases

sometimes you can feel lost for son when thinking about how to say no. When in doubt these phrases will help you to decline any request in a civilized way, so it ‘s beneficial to keep these in your back pocket. Or bookmark this web log post .

Declining an offer or invite

  1. I appreciate the offer/invite, but I can’t commit.
  2. I’m honored by the offer/invites, but can’t.
  3. I’m flattered you considered me, but unfortunately I’ll have to pass this time.
  4. I appreciate the offer/invite, but I am completely booked.
  5. Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t.

Saying no when you don’t have time

  1. I’m not able to make it this week/month/year.
  2. I’m really buckling down on my priorities right now, so I can’t.
  3. I’ve got too much on my plate right now, I just can’t take it on right now.
  4. I’m at the end of my rope right now so have to take a raincheck.
  5. Sadly I have something else.

Saying no when your interests are not aligned

  1. It doesn’t sound like the right fit for me.
  2. Sorry, but I feel I wouldn’t fit the bill.
  3. I believe I’m not the right person for that.
  4. I’m not sure I’m the best for this.
  5. Unfortunately, it’s not a what I’m looking for.

Saying no without a specific reason

  1. I wish I could make it work.
  2. Unfortunately, it’s not a good time.
  3. I wish there were two of me, but I can’t.
  4. Maybe another time.
  5. Sorry, I can’t

How to say no politely with Flowrite

Let ‘s be honest here : There are entirely that many hours in the day, and you do not want to waste it with crafting civil yet concise emails while leaving the door assailable for future collaborations. Yes, you can use all of these tips in your daily life, or you can spend your time more efficiently doing what very moves your career forth. hera ‘s how you can use Flowrite to politely decline a request .
Feeling more comfortable about how to say no ? We hope that with these tips and examples you are able to decline request with confidence. If you think we missed out on essential take on saying no politely, please let us know.

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