How to Say No With Grace

It’s good to help people, say yes to opportunities, attend events and support friends, colleagues and clients.

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However, now and again you have to say no. For your own sanity, here are a few ways to respectfully decline:

  1. The management sandwich (layers: positive | negative | positive)“That sounds a great opportunity, but I’m all booked up until [insert date]. I’m happy to put this on my list for then if you like.”

  2. Straight up“I’m so sorry, but I can’t.”

  3. Remove all doubt“I wish I could, but it is just not possible right now. Thank you for thinking of me.”

  4. The Helpful ‘No’“Thanks, but I can’t. Let me help you find a solution.”

  5. It’s not you, it’s me“Thank you for asking, but I’m not doing any [request made] while I’m working on [project].”