How to Say No


Struggling to turn down new commitments? These strategies can help you decline with grace.

Keep explanations short. No one has to know why you can’t take on the obligation. A simple “I won’t be able to do this right now” will suffice.

Acknowledge what saying yes would cost you. Everything you say “yes” to takes time away from something else.

Limit the number of commitments at a time. Once you’ve hit your number, everything else is automatically a no.

Offer an alternative. If a colleague asks if you want to help with a project, say no, but suggest another colleague who might be a better fit.

Let your calendar make the call. Tell the person making the request that you have to check your schedule. Doing so gives you time to evaluate whether you have the time—or inclination—to say yes.

Show your gratitude. A genuine “Thank you for thinking of me!” can soften a turned-down request.

Join the Diversity Woman Community! Join a network of career-oriented women and use the member directory to see all the members in your community and find world class mentors. Access exclusive leadership development packages to help you achieve your career goals. Work With Coaches. Take Career Development Courses, and much more.