10 phrases that are effective, but not harsh.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were asked a favor from a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even your boss that you simply did not want to accept? People love “yes men” & “yes women”, however sometimes you may be unavailable or unwilling to agree to whatever that is being asked of you. Saying no can sometimes come off as rude and unhelpful, but on the other had it’s quite needed almost as much as hearing “yes” is. While you’re in the hot seat and having this internal conflict, the requester is in front of you waiting for your answer, talk about stressful!
No more worries. Here are some ways to decline a favor that will help keep your relationships and your job intact.
1. “Not at this time.”
Not at this time explains to the person that you may already be busy with other tasks and projects. This is really effective especially if the individual knows you are usually open to help, but at this particular time it’s just not the best to add anything else onto your plate.
Disclaimer: Be careful with using this with your boss because they probably already know your work load since it’s most likely a work related favor.
2. “I am not comfortable with that.”
Occasionally, there are times where you are asked to participate in a task that makes you feel uneasy. This is when listening to your gut helps. Clarify why you’re truly uncomfortable with the request and the number of people that are empathetic may surprise you.
3. “I do not have the resources.”
Let’s say someone asks you to borrow money, items etc. and you can’t commit to that. Your resources are as valuable as anyone else and there may be situations where you can’t lend a helping hand, that’s okay. Discuss that your resources are already being stretched, and funds are tight. Most people can relate to this, so don’t be afraid to be honest.
4. “Can we reschedule?”
This works in circumstances that you might actually accept the request if you were not already swamped with responsibilities for the day. If what they are asking is time-sensitive, then see if it can hold off for the next 24 hours, where it may be more accessible in your schedule if you really want to help with this particular issue.
5. “Let me think about this.”
Stating this is a perfect way to defuse the current conversation, and give you some time away from the requester to access the pros and cons before giving an official yes or no. You may have to decide quickly though as the person who asked is waiting for a response.
6. “Maybe [insert name here] is available?”
Okay, this one can be tricky. Only use this if it’s a situation where this could be a benefit to the person you suggest and only if the person in question knows that you are trying to help them. This could be for a fellow co-worker to gain a greater rapport with the boss, just make sure you use this option carefully.
7. “I don’t have the information on that.”
People may always ask you for your help because you are often equipped to assist. However, if there is a task that you have little to no knowledge on, tell them. The requester may just assume that you know and hasn’t considered that what is being asked may not be in your arsenal of information.
8. “It’s not because of you.”
Here comes the cliché “It’s not you, it’s me”. Well, in this case it’s not them, but the request. Explain to the inquirer that you are not saying no because of them; you’re saying no because of what they’re asking. This can be uneasy for both parties, nevertheless it has to happen for boundaries to be put in place.
9. “Sorry, I can’t.”
There are times where you can’t allow yourself to help for personal reasons. You can’t get involved, you can’t take time off work, you can’t stay late tonight, you can’t lend anything, you can’t babysit, you literally just can’t.
10. “I think you’ll be the best for the project.”
A co-worker may ask you to take over a presentation or you may be asked to host the bake sale at church. Whatever it is that you know you don’t want to do, simply reverse it back to the requester with a compliment. Tell them how great they are at leading tasks such as said favor and communicate how you believe that they will do an amazing job. This could make them feel better about their own abilities and get you out of an unwanted responsibility. Win-win.