Home » 21 Ways to Just Say No

21 Ways to Just Say No

I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have go-to ways to just say no. I mostly just say “I’m already booked” (see below), because that is almost always true. Here are some other tactics that work for me:

Here’s a printable list to download.

  1. Vague but effective: “Thank you for asking, but that isn’t going to work out for me.”
    .
  2. It’s not personal: “Thank you for asking, but I’m not doing any interviews while I’m writing my book.”
    .
  3. Ask me later: “I want to do that, but I’m not available until April. Will you ask me again then?”
    .
  4. Let me hook you up: “I can’t do it, but I’ll bet Shelly can. I’ll ask her for you.”
    .
  5. Keep trying: “None of those dates work for me, but I would love to see you. Send me some more dates.”
    .
  6. Try me last minute: “I can’t put anything else on my calendar this month, but I’d love to do that with you sometime. Will you call me right before you go again?”
    .
  7. Gratitude: “Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and support! I’m sorry I’m not able to help you at this time.”
    .
  8. Give Dad a chance: “You know, I feel like moms are always getting to do the holiday parties at school. Let’s ask Dad if he wants to help this year.”
    .
  9. I’ll still help: “I can’t speak at your event, but I will help you promote it on my blog.”
    .

    I also asked my friends Renee Trudeau and Katrina Alcorn–two people who’ve honed their ability to say no well–for their favorite go-to ways to say no.

    .

    Here are Renee’s favorite ways:

    .
  10. Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then shut up.)
    .
  11. Gracious: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
    .
  12. I’m Sorry: “I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
    .
  13. It’s Someone Else’s Decision: “I promised my coach (therapist, husband, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”
    .
  14. My Family is the Reason: “Thanks so much for the invite, that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”
    .
  15. I Know Someone Else: “I just don’t have time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
    .
  16. I’m Already Booked: “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I’m afraid I’m already booked that day.”
    .
  17. Setting Boundaries: “Let me tell you what I can do…” Then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
    .
  18. Not No, But Not Yes: “Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”(Renee’s list is from her book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal.)
    .

    And here are the additional ways that Katrina most often says no:

    .
  19. Say nothing: Not all requests require an answer. It feels rude to ignore a request, but sometimes it’s the best way for everyone to save face.
    .
  20. Let it all hang out: Recently my daughter got injured in gym class. It was a week of visits to the ER, the concussion clinic, specialists, etc. I decided to just tell people what was going on, which sort of shut down the requests for a bit.
    .
  21. I’m “maxed out”: We need a “safety word” for saying no–an easy way to tell people that we can’t/won’t do the thing they are requesting, but that it’s not personal. One convenient thing about authoring a book called Maxed Out is that now I can say “I’m maxed out” and people who are familiar with the book know I’m asking them to respect that I’m taking care of myself, and that I also respect their need to take care of themselves.

Need more help saying no? Join our Brave Over Perfect Coaching group, where we practice the skills we need to say “no” strategically so that we can say “yes” with joy and abandon. Learn more here.