How To Say No Nicely

How To Say No Nicely


Business men and woman have this attraction to saying “Yes”. It’s guised as the need to help, the inability to delegate or the lack of self-discipline to put high value tasks first. Just yesterday I read a Facebook message from a friend fretting about why, as the owner of her own business, should she be up late at night chasing a work deadline.

Two of my senior team are knee-deep in to-do’s because they are ‘yes’ people and a client holding a senior position in a local law firm has a list the length of her arm but she is still taking on more. If you’re still reading this, chances are you suffer from ‘yes-a-litis’ too!

So, how do you go about saying ‘No’ – nicely?

Assess what you did today.

Looking back on everything you did today; ask yourself what you could have done differently. Was any of your time taken up by low value tasks which should/could have been dealt with by someone else?

(Tip:  Sure signs of saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ include that niggle in the pit of your stomach, the not-so-nice language you utter under your breath or that syrupy sweet smile through gritted teeth you’ve come to perfect as you reach for another ream of documentation and yet another commitment).

Review what’s in store for tomorrow.

Now look at what’s on your action list for tomorrow. Should or could anything be handed back to the delegator?  What tasks could someone with different strengths and perhaps lighter work load do better than you? Can anything be deleted or deferred?

Get clear.

Taking time out to focus on your goals will help you consider each request carefully before you answer so you can ascertain if each request will move closer towards your goals or not.  It ensures that you don’t bite off more than you can chew or end up performing a lot of tasks with substandard results. You have to learn to value yourself and your time because if you don’t value yourself you cannot expect anyone else to!

Ways to say ‘No” nicely:

  1. “I’d love to help but am over-committed at the moment”.
  2. “That’s really not my area of expertise, perhaps you can ask …”
  3. “I’m going to have to decline; I already have too many commitments”.
  4. “I am not qualified to do that sort of work”.
  5. “While I’d love to help, I’ll only be able to get to that next week/month/year”.

There are many other different ways to say no, but at the end of the day, saying no sincerely and honestly is the best way.

Your email can be a productivity tool. Find out how it can turn your day around here.

Confession time:  What are the things you are saying ‘yes’ to, even though you really want to shout ‘NO’?

Tracey Foulkes
Tracey Foulkes wows audiences with her sharp wit, quick reactions and personable sense of humour. She speaks about procrastination, business productivity, personal motivation and time management. . If you want your team to be inspired to operate outside of the box, contact her for a complimentary productivity assessment, email or find her on Twitter as Tracey Foulkes or on LinkedIn as Tracey Foulkes.