Tips to Learn the Art of Saying ‘No’

Since we were kids, it’s always hard for us to accept the “No” from our parents whenever we wanted to do or have something, and they won’t give it. Do you think they find it easier to say no, although they knew it would make us feel bad and upset? Or have you ever thought that they also struggle on how to say “No” to you in a way that you won’t feel hurt or disappointed?

Yes, saying ‘NO’ is a big struggle sometimes, especially when the person who asks a favor is closest to your heart.

Despite your heavy workload and multiple meetings in a day, you can’t resist saying ‘YES’ and giving in when someone asks requests, even if you’ve already got too much on your plate.  


Some of the common reasons why ‘NO’ is just the hardest answer: 

  1. You don’t want anyone to feel down and disappointed
  2. It’s not politically correct (PC)
  3. Saying ‘No’ can be perceived as a weakness
  4. Saying ‘yes’ comes naturally to you
  5. Returning a favor
  6. Fear of breaking someone’s trust


two men in a face-to-face conversation, one is explaining, one is holding a white mug

Saying ‘no’ is as important as saying ‘yes’. Saying yes all the time can be burdensome and might affect your commitment, especially when there are too much to accomplish within the same time. Some things that you have agreed to do might not be performed anymore due to overload and overwhelming tasks at hand. However, there are many ways to say ‘no’ without sounding rude, harsh, or mean.


Saying the right words besides directly saying ‘No’.

Nobody wants to break someone’s expectation or a good impression of you-someone that can be counted on, “the answer,” the problem-solver, the “savior,” and the one who’s always there whenever needed. Anyone can just be worried about burning a bridge or two or of hurting a closest friend’s feelings. Everyone wants to live peacefully and harmoniously with other people; that’s why as much as we can, we avoid saying no and grant favors being asked from us despite the truth that sometimes, they are tasks or requests are overwhelming.

Here are the effective tips and good ways to frame your answer in refusing someone else’s request, saying ‘No’ while remaining polite, professional, and likeable to others.

“I can’t today. How about [insert suggested time]?” When someone asks you to do something for that day, and you cannot commit to help, you may answer. This is the best answer when you truly believe the request is worth looking into again in the future. But make sure that you’re sure this is something you want to reconsider in the future. 

“Let me think about it.” This is a more gracious and professional way of asking for more time to think about the request. 

“The idea sounds great! It’s just that . . . “You are especially chosen to be asked for help; therefore, the person is hugely certain that you can deliver the request, but for some reason, you cannot say yes. Instead of a direct ‘No,’ sincerely start on a positive note and compliment or thank the person for thinking of you.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

If you’re preoccupied and got no time or interest in fulfilling the request, a straightforward no is the best answer you can give. Don’t give anyone false hope, and you can secure that you’re still on track with your schedule and goals.


Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” 

I’m Sorry: “Thanks, I really wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”

Gracious: “I really appreciate your time and effort asking me, but my time is already committed to something else.”

Family is the Reason: “Thanks so much for the invite, that’s the day of my son’s soccer game, and I never miss those.”

I Know Someone Else: “I’m kinda busy right now. Let me recommend someone who can help you.”

It’s always best to be honest when saying why you can’t simply say yes to the request, and whenever you might think of considering fulfilling the favor next time, be sure to make room for opportunities that best align with what you want to do or achieve. Step up and be transparent about your inability to finish the job or commit to the engagement.