Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How to Say "No" Nicely

We've all been there - being asked to do something that we don't really want to do. It's hard to say "No" sometimes, we may feel guilty - but we shouldn't. Being able to say No can help you and can also help the other person too (ever worked with someone that didn't really want to be there?). We all have busy lives and commitments learning to set your priorities and your limits will only make your life easier - and you can say No nicely, you really can!!

First, Smile when you are saying No. You aren't trying to be rude, you are just setting your boundaries and letting the other know it in a kind way. Smile, even when the No is being said over the phone.

When you are answer is No be sure that it is clear. Saying "maybe" will only prolong the process of getting your No out. I think for many people they are afraid that saying No will offend the other, in many cases leaving the other on a string waiting for your actual answer is more offending.

If the request is something that you would really like to do, but the time isn't right, offer a Rain check. I remember one instance where the high school in my town was doing a local "American Idol" and I was asked to be one of the judges. It was something that I really wanted to do, but the date coincided with the due date of Baby S. I told them that while I couldn't do it this year that I would want to be considered next year.

Redirect. Sometimes a person can't do their request by themselves and are asking you to help them with it, if you can't (or don't want to) offer them names of others who might be able to help them. One night Mr. S was broadcasting a high school football game his color announcer called in last minute (day of the game) to say that he couldn't do it. I asked him if he knew anyone else and he offered the name of another local guy. It worked out so well!! His redirection lead to another who could do it for the rest of the season. Sometimes a redirection can also come in the form of an alternative job for the project: i.e.: I can't organize the luncheon, but I can bring a salad.

Give encouragement. Sometimes a person may need a little boost to let them know that they can do it. I work with a local youth theater group and I am constantly asked to direct the plays that we produce. It's time consuming and there is very little help offered my way from the director of the board. Just recently she suggested that we produce "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and wanted me to direct it. I told her ( I have learned that only straight No's work with her) that while I think that the play would be fun I had no interest directing this project and suggested that she was very capable of directing it. It took some time encouraging her that she could, but we are now going forward with the project with her as the director of the show.

You don't need to go into lengthy details. This is something that I've inherited from my Mother. I feel like I have to explain myself telling the requester my entire life story. You don't have to. Your business is your business unless it is necessary, like the American Idol judge thing I explained that my due date was around that day, but I didn't start my explanation with the conception and the stats of babies that come on their due date.

Still need a list of ways to say No:

"Sorry I have other plans"
"Now is not a good time. How about we reconnect at {scheduled} time"
"Last time I {did the request} I was too stressed/financially strained"
"Yes, I would like to {do request}, but currently can't fit it in to my schedule"
"I'd love to do this, but I can't due to (A. Prior Commitment or B. Different need)"
"Right now I can't take on any new projects"
" I really don't enjoy doing {the project}" (if you don't like doing it letting them know to cross you off the list is the best for you and them!)
"I hate to split my attention {among projects, children, priorities} at this time"
"I need to focus on {my personal life, family, children, another project} right now"
"I need to leave some free time for myself {family, children, schedule}" (it's not rude to be honest)

My favorite, it's nice, short, direct - "I want to see how long I can go without saying Yes" or "I've decided to dedicate my life to the art of making linguine" :)



Rebecca said...


Vicky said...

Good advice! This can be so hard sometimes. Love the clip from the Office. I am a new follower from the Sundae Scoop. Vicky @

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