« «
Mar 27 2018

3 Times You Should Always Say “No” (Part 2)


In a previous post, we outlined three situations where you should always say no. But once you’ve decided to say no, how do you actually, you know, say it?

The answer depends on the person who asked. Below, you’ll find three templates for the most common people in your life you’ll have to say no to.

Your boss
This may be one of the hardest nos you’ll have to give—after all, he or she has seniority. However, as long as you’re in the right (meaning you can’t or shouldn’t fulfill their request), they’ll respect you for it.

“[X project/task] sounds really exciting. But between [responsibility #1], [responsibility #2], and [responsibility #3], I’m at max capacity. Would you like me to reprioritize, or should I keep focusing on my current work?”

This is a soft no. It explains why you can’t take on another assignment, yet also gives your boss a sense of control.

Your coworkers
Saying no to your team members all the time isn’t wise; not only do you want to be a team player, you’ll also need their help at some point. But that doesn’t mean you’re at their beck and call. When you need to say no, do so graciously and leave the door open for future yeses.

“Thanks for thinking of me for this opportunity. I’ve got a lot on my plate this [week, month, quarter], so I have to decline—I wouldn’t be able to dedicate the [time, energy] that [doing X] merits. If there are any other chances for me to help down the road, please check back in and hopefully my schedule will have eased up.”

Who can be miffed at a response like that? Note that you’re not committing to helping in the future (you may be just as, if not more, slammed), but you still seem eager to pitch in.

Your friend
Since your friends are your peers, rejecting their requests is less tricky. Nonetheless, some tact never hurts.

“I’d love to do X, but I can’t make it.”

You don’t have to explain why you’re busy—simply replying, “I can’t make it” is explanation enough and rescues you from potential back-and-forth (“Oh, but can’t you do that another time?” or “What if I pushed it back?” or “Can’t you squeeze both in?” and so on).

What if they ask you to do something you’re not comfortable with? All you have to say is, “Unfortunately, I don’t… [insert action here].” Unlike “I can’t,” which begs the question, “Why not?”, “I don’t” diplomatically shuts down the conversation.

For example, if someone asks you to hit the bar after work, and you don’t drink, you might say, “That sounds like fun, but I don’t drink. Maybe we can grab a quick dinner instead?” You don’t have to offer an alternative, but it does soften your response.

Check out our next series for three more templates.

About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

Signature Consultants General