Diplomatic Strategies for Saying “No”

  1. “I would if I could, however…” Don’t use “but”; use “and” or “however.”
  2. “Which of these other tasks should I put aside?” Give the responsibility of all that has been assigned you to the assignee. If the new request comes from someone other than the person to whom you are working with at the moment, ask the new requester to ask the other task master to give you permission to switch tasks.
  3. “After looking at my calendar, I can’t get to it till next week. Would that be ok?” This is a great stalling technique.
  4. “Can I get back to you on that?” It shows you are thinking about it.
  5. “I’d be glad to, however, there are others who know ——— better than me.” Be careful not to suggest any one person in particular.
  6. “After realizing the scope of the project, I’m going to have to say no.”
  7. “I would feel awkward doing this for you.” This is a common response to personal requests made by bosses of employees, like buying presents or clothing for them.
  8. “I’m sorry, I just can’t do it.” Be apologetic.
  9. “I’ll do it, if you’ll do…for me.” Tit for tat, trade political chips.


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