Saying No (But Nicely)

Okay so today we’re going to talk about ways to say no that still feel nice. This is especially important for those of us who can be real people pleasers.

There are a few different reasons why we tend to say yes when we don’t want to:

  1. Fear of confrontation
  2. Fear of what the asker will think of us if we say no (which is the other side of the same coin as wanting people to like us)
  3. Fear that if we say no to this person now, we won’t get asked to do something we want to do later (aka Fear Of Missing Out)

So let’s tackle those!

Fear of confrontation is easiest – all you need to do is tell them you need some time to think about it/look at your schedule/see what your availability is like, and you’ll get back to them. “That sounds like such a great opportunity. I need to look at my schedule to see if I’m available. I’ll send you an email by the end of the day to let you know.”

Fear of what someone will think of us. The easiest way to navigate this one is to give an explanation for why you can’t do what you’re being asked to do. The magic of this is then it makes it very hard for someone to make assumptions about you. And then you want to follow up with a solution to the problem that you may be creating by saying no. We’ll look at a couple different scenarios

  • Your boss asks you to take on a new project. “Thank you so much for thinking of me for this. As you know, I’m already leading project x and working on project y, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to give all three the attention they need. I know Coworker has just wrapped up their work on project z, so they would be a great point person for this. Or, if you’d still like me to run this new project, I could pass off my responsibilities for project y to them.”
  • A coworker you don’t particularly like has invited you over for dinner. “Thank you so much for inviting me. I won’t be able to attend. I don’t go out for dinners on weeknights/it’s my policy to not spend social time with coworkers to make sure I treat everyone fairly/my weekly schedule is already as full as I can manage. Why don’t we schedule a meeting during work hours next week to make sure we cover anything that’s on your mind.
  • Your grandma (who you love!) asks you to come over for lunch. “Grandma you know you’re my favorite person ever, but I’ve already agreed to do too many things this week. I can make it next weekend on Saturday or Sunday if you’re free either of those days instead, because you know how much I love visiting you.”

Fear of missing out. Here’s the thing about FOMO. It’s not really real. Even if you miss out on something super amazing because you said no, you’ll still get tons of chances to do super amazing things again. And if you say yes to everything, you’ll be too exhausted to even enjoy things. Just say no!

No matter the situation, the most important thing is to stay positive, be understanding, and STAY STRONG, especially if someone is giving you some push back on your stance. “I understand that you hoped I would be able to do this thing for you, and I’m also disappointed we couldn’t make it work out. But, I am unable to at this time.”

So let me end this with a little note. I don’t believe that we should say no to things just to practice saying no to things. If there’s something you genuinely want to do and that you have the time for, say yes! Yes allows for so many possibilities and opportunities! But when you do want to say no, you HAVE TO SAY NO. (I mean, technically you don’t have to, but you should for your own sanity.)

4 thoughts on “Saying No (But Nicely)

  1. I too wrote a blog post on it being ok to say NO! This was a great read and addressed topics people may not even realize they do in fear of disappointing others by saying NO!


  2. I appreciate this post. Sometimes we get caught up in a moment and either say yes or rudely decline. Thanks for this.


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