How to say ‘No’ brilliantly

12th October 2020

For most of us, saying no doesn’t come naturally. Regardless of your role, responsibility or job title, we all find ourselves wanting to say no on demands for our time, but often we don’t know how to say no assertively.

Maybe you feel horrible disappointing a colleague, guilty or anxious about turning down your manager. Maybe you feel that people won’t help or cooperate with you on future projects. We’ve all been there and it can be tricky. So here’s some basic hints and tips you may want to try.

First things first, you need to put your feelings aside – think about your current workload and the opportunity. Ask yourself;

  • Do I really have the time to complete what I’m being asked to do?
  • Will it jeopardise my current objectives and priorities?
  • Will it benefit me or my team?

Thinking about the request logically should enable you to make a clear decision about whether this is something you can commit to.

“When you communicate be confident – a mismatch between the words we say, the tone of what we say and our non-verbal communication (body language) can create mistrust.”

So, you now know that you should say No – but how are you going to do it?
  • Recognise and accept that other people have the right to ask and you have the right
    to say “No”.
  • Acknowledge or thank the person – “Thank you for asking me, I’d prefer not to…”
  • Give the real reason for saying “No” rather than making an excuse – be polite & concise
  • Identify yourself with your own decision rather than hiding behind rules or other people.
  • Give out “No” vibes, particularly non-verbal ones (firm, steady voice, direct eye contact)
  • Ask for more time to consider if you need it.

Remember that you’re being honest and have considered the opportunity carefully, you’re not just saying no to be awkward. Others will respect you for being realistic, honest and confident.

Assertive Negotiation, Saying “Not Now”.

If you can’t say no because it falls under your responsibility, or it is something you would like to be involved with but you just cannot complete at this moment in time – then negotiate!

  • Show recognition of their needs
  • State your own position, including any limits, honestly and constructively.
  • If appropriate, say you respect their right to make the final decision.

And don’t forget, no matter what, support what you say with how you say it – sound and look positive