Perfect phrases to say 'no' nicely at work

Do you find yourself saying ‘yes’ even if inside you are shouting ‘no’?

Do you ever feel resentful about saying yes to agreeing to something you don’t want to do?

Perhaps you are a business owner who struggles around people who expect free advice, even though they know what they are asking for is what you bill your clients for hourly?

What are some of the consequences?

  • Working extra hours and sacrificing sleep, exercise, and time with people you enjoy.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and resentful.
  • Developing a reputation for being approachable but turning in low quality work.

Why is it that we say 'yes' so often?

Often we're programmed to from childhood. We were taught that it was rude to say no.

Often we feel pressured into saying 'yes' because we’d rather deal with our negative feelings than someone else’s judging stares, complaining or possible gossip if we say 'no'.

How to say no nicely

Dont give mixed messages, vague answers or avoid someone by not replying.

If you explain, justify or defend, you lose all credibility. Be succint, courteous and to the point.

Wherever possible wait 24 hours to respond.

If you always jump to meet everyone else’s demands and requests, you may find some people will be put out by your new approach. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated.  

A few examples

‘Thanks for asking. I would if I could but that isn’t going to work for me.’

‘Thanks, I appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.’

‘I can’t add anything to my calendar this month, I am maxed out, but thanks for thinking of me.’

‘Im afraid I don’t have the time right now, but I'm happy to recommend someone who may be able to help you.’


‘Let me tell you what I can do...' (limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you).

‘I will certainly think about it and get back to you in the next few days.’

‘Sorry but my schedule is full and so I have to pass.'

'With my schedule, I would let you down and I won’t let myself do that.'

What if someone won’t take 'no' for an answer?

Anyone who doesn’t respect your answer as being final and tries to manipulate, shame you or make you feel guilty is a bully.

You are not a doormat.

Do not tolerate bullies.

They’re controlling.

Remember ‘what you practise, you become’.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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