Ten ways to say
by Janet Hawkins
There are only so many hours in a day. You know it, but your boss
doesn’t. She’s asked you to join a committee that’s updating company
policies. It meets twice monthly, all afternoon, for the next year.
You silently calculate the number of hours you’ll have to commit while
you mentally list the things you’ll have to shuffle in order to
participate. It’s going to be a real challenge.
How do you say no?
Believe it or not, saying no is an option we all have. And there are
several ways to decline a request that don’t seem rude, unkind or
Buy yourself some time. Usually, you don’t have to give
a yes or no answer on the spot. Ask if you can think it over. Tell her
that you have to talk it over with others first. Let her know that you
have to consider how this will impact your current commitments. Each
response gives you time to come up with an acceptable excuse and the
emotional space you need to honestly consider the request.
|Pay a compliment while saying no. Your
boss’s request reflects her confidence in your judgement and
ability to accomplish the task. Recognize that compliment with
one of your own, “I can’t tell you how much your trust in my
ability means to me, but my Tuesdays and Thursdays are already
filled with other projects.”
“That’s a really worthwhile project, but I have to
decline. Right now I can’t commit the time needed to do a good
job.” Phrasing a negative response in a positive way allows you
to maintain relationships and avoid hurt feelings.
Suggest a compromise. Offer to share the
responsibility with someone
else to reduce your time on the task. Or volunteer to
participate only once a month or for half of the anticipated
Less means more. When you’ve made up your mind,
sometimes it’s best to begin with “no.” Don’t go into a lengthy
explanation of why you can’t or won’t do something. Someone will
always try to counter your reasons. A simple, “No, I can’t serve
on the committee,” may work just fine.
several ways to decline a request that don't seem rude,unkind or
Anticipate and rehearse. Sometimes you know when a request is
coming. In those situations before you’re asked, jot down a few things
to say before being asked that you feel comfortable saying,
and practice them. Your confidence may be all that’s needed to prevent
someone from trying to
change your mind. Redirect. If someone other than your boss makes a
request that you must decline, tell them that you’ll talk it over with
the boss before you get back with them. That way the two of you can get
your stories straight when asked about the decision.
Offer an alternative. When declining a request, suggest an
alternative, “Maybe Sara in Systems can
serve on the committee.” Sara may be looking for a chance to showcase
her knowledge of policies—this could be a real win-win situation. Beat
‘em to the punch. Sid in the budget office tells you that you’re wanted
on the committee. Take the upper hand and talk to the boss before he
asks. He doesn’t have to deal with an uncomfortable situation and you
avoid saying no.
Answer a question with a question. Ever notice how one
question leads to another? Make sure that you have your questions
answered before you commit. What projects get lower priority? Can help
be brought in to assist with the extra workload? Is there additional
compensation or benefit for the added work? Who knows, once the boss
answers your questions she may withdraw hers.