How to Say "No" - Politely

The most powerful word in our time management vocabulary is NO.
— Anonymous

What happens when you’re strapped for time, and maybe feeling maxed out, and then you get asked to do something by someone you admire, or is important to you, or is something you may like to do? Do you say “yes” right away - and then wonder what you were thinking, but go ahead with it anyway, stress and all?

We are the only ones who know for sure what our schedules are and how much time we do or do not have, so it’s absolutely okay to pause before we say “yes" to someone in order to give yourself time to evaluate if it’s realistic to take it on. This can be very difficult to do for many people - guilt and wanting to please others often get in our way, even if we know it's in our best interest.  

A simple, “Let me think about that” is a great way to be able to wait before giving an answer, both about what you can and cannot do. Go home, check your calendar and to-do lists to see if it’s possible, time-wise, and also think about if it’s something you actually want to do.

Then you can accept or decline knowing you’ve given it your attention. And when you do need to say “no,” here are a few practical examples of how to do it in a polite way:

  • “Thank you for thinking of me, but at this time my schedule does not allow any extra activities.”

  • “I am just not available right now, thank you anyway.”

  • “Thank you for the opportunity, I just can't commit to this right now.”

  • “I'd love to do this, but now is not the right time.”

Or just keep it simple and just say... “No, Thank you” or “No, I can’t.”  It's ok sometimes to be that direct.

Above all, saying no doesn't mean you’re being rude.  Feeling guilty or pushed into a task or project is not a reason to do something and in fact, it often turns out much worse than if you had just said no in the first place.

Saying no is about protecting your time and what you decide to do with it. It's putting a value to what matters to you.

Until Next Time...

Take Care,