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How to Say No

How to Say No

That’s true at work and in personal relationships. When a colleague asks you to undertake a project that doesn’t have the bandwidth, turning it down without feeling rejected is a valuable skill. Similarly, when he receives an invitation that he cannot accept, he does not know how to say that he is not polite. So how can you adjust your tone in email or text so that the person you are rejecting knows that you still care? Here are five strategies, as well as examples of how not to say nice.

Say it loud.

Don’t beat around the bush or make weak excuses or hem and hawk. This only provides an opening for the other person. Don’t delay or stop either. Give a brief explanation if you feel you have to; however, don’t feel obligated. Yes, less said.

Be assertive and courteous.

You could say, “Sorry, I can’t now, but I’ll let you know if and when I can.” This approach is courteous and puts you in a position of power by changing the dynamics. You are in charge and you tell people that you will let them know when and if you can. Another example: “I appreciate that you have asked me for help, but now I am too thin to extend the time and be a quality help.”

Fixed limits.

People sometimes find it hard not to say them because they didn’t take the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role in the relationship. Once you really understand the dynamics and what they do, you won’t be as concerned about the consequences of saying no. You will realize that your relationship is strong and that they can tell you no.

Returns the question to the sender.

This is very effective in a work situation. Suppose a supervisor asks you to perform a series of tasks, more than he can handle. You might say, “I’m happy to do X, Y, and Z, but it would take three weeks instead of two to do a good job. How do you want me to prioritize them?”

Be strong.

If one cannot accept yours, then you know that that person is unlikely to be a loyal friend or that you don’t respect them. Stand your ground and don’t be forced to give up because that person is uncomfortable.

Be selfish.

Put your needs first. They are not the ones who ask you for something. If you prioritize that person’s needs over your own, you will find that your productivity will suffer and there will be abuse. “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that successful people say almost everything.”

Helpful Hints for No.

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