How does one say "no" without hurting the other person's feelings?
That's easy, just say, "No, talk to the hand."
I'm joking. If only it was so easy.
Saying no isn’t always easy—but it’s often necessary.
That’s true both at work and in personal relationships. When a colleague asks you to take on a project you don’t have the bandwidth for, pushing back without leaving them feeling rebuffed is a valuable skill. Likewise, when you get an invite you’re just not up for, knowing how to say no politely keeps things from getting awkward.
So how do you finesse your tone over email, text or in person so the person you’re turning down knows you still care? Watch today's episode to learn two steps that have always helped me through such sticky situations.
#1 BUY TIME
It’s better to wait until your emotions have settled and you can consider the request realistically.
Therefore, instead of answering straight away, buy time.
For example, say: “Thanks for asking me. I’ll need to check my diary and then I’ll get back to you.” Wait for at least an hour - a day is even better - before you reply. This allows time for your emotions to settle so you can look at the request logically. Then if it looks like you can realistically take on the added responsibility, let them know.
If on the other hand, you realize the request will overload you, move on to the next step.
#2 THE POSITIVE SANDWICH
Before I dive into this tactic, a friendly word of caution here: You may use this, but not too often as people will then learn your “rejection tactic” after some time.
Start off by first making the other person feel good. Let them know you heard what they had to say and you agree about the importance of it.
Next, give them your answer and explain your reason with facts rather than emotion (i.e. say it’s not in your skillset or it’s not something you currently have the capacity for due to your current workload).
Quickly follow this up with a positive sentence that helps deflect attention i.e. “I do know who would be absolutely perfect to take on this task,” or “I’d love to be able to get involved with this when my workload lessens next month – could we maybe set up a meeting for next month?”
See? It's not that hard right.
Although you are saying ‘no’, you can still endeavor to be helpful, which softens the blow. You might be able to contribute in another way, or perhaps you can free up someone else from your team who is equally competent to take on the request.
Learn that it is perfectly ok to say “no” if it means protecting your sanity, your convictions, and your priorities.
Do remind yourself that there is a fine line between following our convictions and using them as an excuse to be self-focused to the point of being selfish. Don’t turn down every request or opportunity.
Some opportunities may just be a stepping stone towards something amazing beyond your wildest dreams.
Once you’ve watched and read through this article, I’d love to hear from you.
What strategies have you used to get yourself out of tricky situations without disappointing the other person? Do share your knowledge and experience in the comments below.
Share as much detail as you can. Many lovely souls come here for insight and inspiration. Your story may be just what someone else needs to have a major breakthrough.
I really hope this strategy helps you to have the courage to speak up for yourself when needed and to protect the most precious asset that you can never get back once it's gone - your time.
Thank you so much for watching, sharing, and adding your thoughts.
Live strong, and have the courage to create a life you love because your happiness matters.
Sending lots of joy and inner courage,
P.S. Have a question you’d love to ask me? Do give me your Q on my page Ask Trish Anything and I'll personally get back to you with some empowering steps to help guide you through your challenges. I look forward to serve and help you towards a brighter future, a future you've always dreamt of. Do give me your Q here.
Knowing when to ask for help and guidance is not weakness. If anything, it's a strength.