Four ways to say no nicely

Don't fall victim to the yes syndrome. While your desire to oblige comes from a good place, it could hurt you in the long run by adding unnecessary stress. Sure, there are cases when you'd like to say no but shouldn't. But for the times when it's OK to say nay, use these techniques.
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Oct 01, 2009

Limit your services

If you're OK with fulfilling part of the favor, feel free to lend a helping hand. But be clear on what you are and aren't willing to do. For example, "I'd love to help you out by working your shift next Thursday, but you'll need to find someone else to cover Friday."

Recap the request

Soften the no-blow by first showing that you heard the appeal. Then close with a firm no.

Stick to your guns

When petitioners persist, just repeat your refusal. Giving a short, honest reason for declining may help—but only if you're comfortable disclosing it, of course. If they begin to bully, say no once more and walk away.

Be direct

If you don't want to do something, a simple "No, I can't" is fine. You don't owe anyone an explanation or apology.