You can’t agree to every request that you receive throughout the workday. When you need to decline, take these steps to add meaning to your ”No”:
- Listen. The more thoroughly you understand the request, the more meaningful your response will be. Ask questions and listen carefully to convey your respect to the speaker.
- Pause. Control your impulse to offer an immediate response. Take time – about five to 10 seconds – to consider the request and frame your reply.
- Reply straightforwardly. Once you’ve determined that you should decline, calmly state I’m going to have to say “No.” Don’t chicken out and say ”Let me think about it,” “Maybe” or “I’ll get back to you.” Remember, the person making the request may have a backup plan in mind. By offering a clean refusal, you will enable the individual to approach someone else.
- Have a reason. You’re under no obligation to share your reason for turning down a request. But doing so may help the other person understand your priorities and goals. That could help you avoid having to turn down similar requests in the future.
- Offer alternatives. Can you suggest another person who might be better able to provide the service you’ve been asked for? Perhaps you can offer limited assistance that will aid the other person without creating too big a strain on your time.
What’s the worst reaction you’ve received to telling someone “No”?