How to say no politely: 6 tips for professionals (2023)

Buffett got it right when he said saying no makes him successful.

When you turn down small requests, open up your agenda to say yes to the right opportunities. Who are changing careers and are important to you.

If you decided to click on this article, chances are your inbox is full of messages from colleagues asking for feedback on their work, from team members wanting your support for their latest project, orcold fieldsfrom salespeople telling you to call them.

But saying no might seem difficult because you don't want to damage your reputation. Nobody wants to be the "difficult boss", "unreliable employee" or unapproachable. This type of image can hurt your career prospects.

Saying no doesn't have to be difficult. We've rounded up six ways you can professionally and politely decline a request. You'll learn how to improve your tone of voice to make a good impression, even when you have to let someone down. If you are lookingIncrease your email efficiency, useFlowriteSend rejection emails quickly:

when to say no

Before we dive into the tips, let's look at when it makes sense to say no. Adam Grant had to learn the hard way who to offer support to — and which offers to turn down.

The American psychologist has written a book about the surprising success of givers: people who always help others without obligation. After the New York Times magazine aTitelstoryabout his bookgive and receive, his email inbox filled up with requests from people asking Grant for any kind of support.

As much as Grant wanted to help them all, he had to learn the hard way that he couldn't. He realized that giving was not about pleasing people.

Every yes comes with the price of saying no to other opportunities, including your free time and relaxation. In order to achieve work-life balance and excel at your job, you must learn to say no to tasks, projects, and even opportunities that may not align with your short- and long-term goals.

When you have to decide whether to say yes or no to an opportunity, ask yourself: Am I closing the door a little, or am I opening the door to better opportunities?

Reject politely – 6 tips

1. Be concise and clear

"If you want something done, ask a busy person." This famous saying shows how a responsive employee who takes on tasks with ease can lead to requests piling up in your inbox. That's why sometimes it's so important to turn down tasks and opportunities that aren't high on your priority list.

If you have to say no - be clear. You don't want to embarrass the other person, especially when the task at hand is urgent. Not even taking the time to sit down and decline an email can seem thoughtless and close the door to future collaborations (see tip #4).

But there's a difference between being succinct and blunt.

How to say no politely: 6 tips for professionals (2)


Hallo Jason,

Unfortunately I don't have time at the moment to help you with this project.

Hope you find someone to support you.

(Video) How To Say No in English | 6 Polite Ways to Say No


Can you see the difference? Just a few more words and the tone is much more respectful while giving a resounding "no." This brings us to the second tip.

2. Kill them gently and be polite

Some people are afraid of appearing "rude" or "unhelpful" by saying no. You can easily get such a reputation if you answer so quickly and so briefly that it seems harsh. But saying no can be graceful and even feel empowered to get your message if you kill it with kindness.

People want to feel seen and valued, even if you have to say no. So make the other person feel good! You may have heard of a "shit sandwich" when giving feedback to an employee, but it also works perfectly when you have to say no.

A shit sandwich works very simply: you start with a positive note (“That sounds like an interesting event”), give them the bad news (“But unfortunately I can't attend as a speaker”), and end with kindness (“I'm me sure you will still have a successful conference!")

Some phrases you may want to use to be friendly and polite:

  • Thank you for thinking about me.
  • Sounds like a great project/event/idea, but it's not for us.
  • I don't have enough time to offer quality help.
  • "unfortunately" or "unfortunately" (You do not have to apologize!)

3. State your reasons - but without opening yourself up

You may want to explain to the other person why this weekend or week isn't working. A brief explanation can let the other person know that it is not a question of neglect, but that you are simply unavailable.

However, you don't have to feel compelled to state your reasons if the person is a taker, aka someone who takes your arm when you shake hands.

You want to keep your no to buyers as simple as possible and not give them an opportunity to discuss your schedule.

How to say no politely: 6 tips for professionals (3)


Hello Lauren,

Unfortunately, this week is already full of tasks.


(Video) How to Say 'No' Politely in English Without being Rude

How to say no politely: 6 tips for professionals (4)


Prez Lauren,

Thank you for thinking of me. Given my current workload, I can't do your project well and my other work would suffer.

Thanks for your understanding.

Best wishes,

In the first variant, you risk that the other person will try to persuade you to help anyway ("If this week doesn't work out, we can always do it next week."). In contrast, the second clearly closes the door. Another simple solution is to write, "I'll let you know when and if I can."

It changes the force dynamics and allows you to reachShewhen you have a vacancy instead of them knocking on your door every day.

(Video) How to Say No Politely

4. Keep the door open

Sometimes you have to say no so that you can say yes at the right moment. For example, you may need to say no to a project that doesn't align with your current career goals so you can say yes when the right project lands on your desk.

You don't want to burn bridges by declining an offer. A good relationship with your network is key to accelerating your career. So sometimes you want to keep the door open when you say no.

"I'm currently unavailable" or "I'm currently out of capacity" are simple phrases that indicate that you are open to a similar opportunity in the future. You can improve this tacticafter ordering laterto ask if they got what they ordered somewhere else.

Use these phrases with caution because you don't want to give the other person false hope that your no will eventually become a yes. If yours isn't flexible and malleable, it can come across as unreliable or dishonest. At the same time, it is reasonable to say that while the answer may be no today, things could change in the future.

5. Point them to an alternative

A simple reference can be of great help to your counterpart.introductionto someone else (andReduce yourself to the role of CC) who can take the job or are even better suited to the task can be worth your time, especially with people you've worked with for a long time.

Even proposing a different time on your own calendar can be a compromise that you can agree to. If you get the samerequests fromrepeatedly, you can collect a document with your most frequent references (books, people, courses, etc.) to make it easier for you. If you want to learn how to connect two people, read our blog post "How to introduce two people via email."

6. Understand people's strategies

"Pushers" usually get what they want in life. You may have experienced it yourself: you hired the freelancer you kept checking out, not because he's better, but because he was persistent.

People have their strategies for getting what they want. If you want to avoid signing up for things that won't advance you in your career or business, you need to consider these strategies — especially when it comes to sales.

Some of the most common strategies to get you to say yes:

  • Urgency: "This offer will expire at midnight and will never come back."
  • Social pressure: "Other people have donated X amount."
  • Free offers: "Start your free trial."

When we understand them, we too can put aside our instant response, "Well, in that case..." and look at what really benefits us.

How to say no in any situation - 20 sentences

Sometimes you feel lost thinking about how to say no. When in doubt, these phrases will help you politely decline all requests, so keep them in your back pocket. Or bookmark this blog post.

Decline an offer or invitation

  1. Thank you for the offer/invitation, but I can't commit.
  2. I'm honored by the offer/invitation, but I can't.
  3. I'm flattered that you considered me, but unfortunately I have to stop by this time.
  4. Thanks for the offer/invitation, but I'm fully booked.
  5. Thanks for thinking of me, but I can't.

Say no when you don't have time

  1. I can't go this week/month/year.
  2. I'm really lowering my priorities right now, so I can't.
  3. I've got so much on my mind right now, I can't make it right now.
  4. I'm at the end of my rope now, so I have to do a rain check.
  5. Unfortunately I have something else.

Say no when your interests don't match

  1. It doesn't seem right for me.
  2. I'm sorry, but I have a feeling this wouldn't fit.
  3. I don't think I'm the right person for this.
  4. I'm not sure I'm the best for it.
  5. Unfortunately it's not what I'm looking for.

Say no for no specific reason

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

How to politely say no with Flowwrite

Let's face it: there are only a few hours in the day, and you don't want to waste them composing polite but concise emails, leaving the door open for future collaborations.Write emails fasterWith new developments in artificial intelligence, this is actually not that difficult.

Yes, you can apply all of these tips in your daily life or spend your time more efficiently on what really drives your career. See how you can useFlowritepolitely decline a request:

Are you more comfortable saying no?

We hope that with these tips and examples, you can confidently decline requests.

If you feel we've missed an opportunity to politely say no, let us know.

(Video) 15 Expressions to Say No Politely and Professionally at Work


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