Seven Great Tips for Gracefully Saying NO
My question is about how to go about saying NO nicely.
I very much want to be a good citizen, good friend and help people out, but there are times when I really want to say NO, but end up resenting having said YES.
My friend asked me to spend a day helping her pack and move. Recently separated, she is moving into a smaller place. She assumes that because I work from home I can take off for a day and work for her for free.
I told her I would think about it and get back with my answer.
It may not sound like a huge commitment, but it means that I would have the back-aching chore of taking out two car seats (then fastening them back in again the next morning) and laying the seats flat in my SUV for her stuff that I’m packing.
Also, I would have to pay a sitter to pick up my kids from school, walk them home, and stay with them for an undetermined period of time until I get home!
Please let me know what I should do as soon as possible.
–Name withheld, Bangor, ME
In regard to your question about how to go about saying NO to a friend.
When a person hesitates with hems and haws, catch that as a NO.
Here’s hoping your friend got the hint when you put her off by stalling your answer. Stalling means MAYBE. MAYBE usually means NO. Phone her to say, “That day doesn’t work for me.”
- Don’t make detailed excuses.
- Don’t lie, you could get caught.
- Don’t feel guilty about saying NO.
- Don’t give mixed messages such as, “I should be working, but I want to be helpful.”
When one NO is not enough, repeat the same answer: “That day doesn’t work for me.”
If she changes the day, be truthful, “I can’t take a day off from my work.”
Support in a different way:
- Give her a firm NO answer within a day.
- Be honest, say you have to work and suggest someone else who might be able to help her move. Look for ‘Guy with Big Truck’ ads in your local paper and give her the phone number.
- If she says she can’t afford to pay for help, offer to give her the cost of having you hire a sitter to mind your kids — if you had said YES.
Stick to your own priorities. When saying NO, say it fast, be brief when explaining why you’re saying NO, and offer support in a different way.
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