28 Ways to Say No

Posted by on Jul 01 2017

Would you babysit my pet tarantula next week? No.

Is it okay if I bring my twelve cousins to your birthday party? No.

Can we extend our contract for six months but not increase the price? No.

Sometimes saying No is easy!

Finding the right words to say No can trip us up. And without the right words, we sometimes say Yes when we don’t mean it, causing stress, frustration and bad feelings.

In one of my mastermind groups, we brainstormed a lot of ways to say No, depending on the given circumstances and what type of No we wanted to give.

Here are 28 ways to say No. While these are business-related, you can modify them for personal use as well:

When No means: No

  1. I can’t take on your project at this time
  2. I’m not accepting any new clients
  3. I’m not comfortable doing what you’re asking
  4. I’m not willing to do what you’re asking
  5. I’m not the right person for the job
  6. I have other commitments that prevent me from doing this
  7. We have a policy in our business that we don’t do that
  8. My schedule is so busy and I’m committed to work/life balance
  9. Right now my priority is X and everything else I’m declining
  10. I’m not able to take on that type of responsibility
  11. Our original agreement was for X; I’m not willing to change that agreement mid-stream
  12. I have an appointment that I can’t reschedule
  13. I want to spend more time doing (fill in the blank)
  14. I don’t enjoy that work
  15. My decision is final
  16. I won’t go

When No means: I can’t do X, but I can offer Y instead

  1. I’m not comfortable doing X, but I’m available to do Y within certain parameters
  2. I’m not really qualified to do this work, but I can recommend an excellent person who might be able to help you
  3. I’d rather work on Y
  4. I’d rather do it this way than the way you are suggesting
  5. I can’t do this myself, but I can ask my assistant to do it for you as long as it only takes 30 minutes like you promised
  6. That’s too little money for this type of work, how about Y?

When No means: I can’t do it now, but I can do it later

  1. I’m not accepting any new clients until September
  2. Can we schedule this for next week instead?
  3. I’m booked solid for August
  4. This Wednesday is really bad for me
  5. I don’t work on Fridays
  6. I need to leave work by 5:00

And, of course, there’s the always-useful, plain old fashioned No. As in, Just Say No. Without preamble, without excuses, without guilt.


7 comments for now

7 Responses to “28 Ways to Say No”

  1. These are great responses! Thank you. I’m passing this on to someone who wrote a book entitled say the right thing.

    27 Jul 2016 at 9:35 am

  2. Karyn Greenstreet

    Thanks, Dee! 🙂

    27 Jul 2016 at 10:19 am

  3. Holman

    Great website. Keep up the work.

    27 Jul 2016 at 9:50 am

  4. Karyn Greenstreet

    Thanks, Holman, I’m glad you liked the article.

    27 Jul 2016 at 10:20 am

  5. Normally the No that I have to say falls into either the can’t do it but can do this instead or a timing issue decline.

    Yet there are times when one simply has to say No (would love to have written it in capital letters) and stay firm. If a request goes against my core values, principles or ethics, it’s easier to be assertive and refuse.

    31 Jul 2016 at 4:42 am

  6. Sometimes it depends who you are saying no to?
    It can also feel good to say no when its someone who has repeatedly taken advantage.

    09 Aug 2016 at 11:41 am

  7. Karyn Greenstreet

    I agree, Tracey…sometimes you would normally say “yes” to a request, but not if the same person makes the same request 10 times in a month!

    09 Aug 2016 at 2:25 pm

Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business