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Eight More Ways to Say No


“I know I should say ‘no’ more,” everyone seems to be telling me. “But how? It’s so hard.” Saying no can be hard. Here are eight more strategies to make it a little easier.

  1. Call it as you see it: “I’m so sorry, but I’m not able to do more than my share this week.”
  2. Reference your crystal ball: “Right now, in this moment, I’d like to go to that party. But I know that I will regret it if I do.”
  3. Practice your reason for saying no before you need it: “I wish I could, but I can’t take on any more responsibilities before the end of the year.”
  4. Say no clearly, and repeat yourself using the same words, if necessary: “I’m so sorry that you are struggling right now, and I wish I could help. But I can’t cover for you this time. I really do wish I could help, but I can’t.”
  5. Fight fire with fire: Take advantage of the “curse of familiarity” by finding an advocate who is close to the person asking you for a favor—and let them say no for you.
  6. Offer a concrete excuse: “I promised my daughter I’d take her to a play that night.”
  7. Offer an alternative: “I have other plans tonight, but I could help you this weekend if you need it.”
  8. Take time to consider: “Thanks for the opportunity. I’ll look at the time frame and get back to you.”

Interested in the research behind these strategies? Check out my Huffington Post blog on this topic here (will add link later). Want even more suggestions for how to say no? See “21 Ways to Give Good No.”

Photo by Lars Plougmann