16 Ways to Graciously and Assertively Say "no"
Browse articles:
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health
Browse companies:
Automotive Crafts, Hobbies & Gifts Department Stores Electronics & Wearables Fashion Food & Drink Health & Beauty Home & Garden Online Services & Software Sports & Outdoors Subscription Boxes Toys, Kids & Baby Travel & Events

16 Ways to Graciously and Assertively Say "no"

Ways to say no without saying no

Many of us find saying "no" difficult. Why is this? The reasons vary.  Sometimes, we feel guilty because we believe that we have not done our part.  Another reason is we don't want to disappoint others. Still another reason may be we have never learned to stand up for ourselves and be assertive. Often times we are afraid others will dislike us if we say "no". The latter Somehow ties our self-esteem into refusing a request. Constantly saying "yes" or passively saying "no" to requests can lead to burnout and a lack of respect for yourself.

Learning how to graciously and assertively say "no" is an acquired skill. When saying “no” you don’t want to sound too defensive or apologetic, however, you must be firm. If you are defensive it may cause you to appear unapproachable; and if you are too apologetic you may be pressured into doing something that you do not have the time or desire to do. Saying “no” should build confidence and preserve the dignity of each person involved.

While refusing a request, the goal is to create a win-win situation. You want to be able to say “no” without feeling guilty and make the other person(s) feel confident in approaching you or others in the future. There are many ways to say “no” without lying, being pushy, aggressive or passive. 

Some ways to assertively and graciously say "no" are: 

"I wish I could commit to that, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed."

"If only you had asked me last week."

"I really can't, however, that sounds like something (name of person), would enjoy doing."

"I would love to do that, but I just don't have the time in my schedule."

"I really cannot say yes at this time."

"It is difficult for me to say no, but I'm going to pass this time."

"Before I say yes, let me check my calendar."

"You caught me at a bad time, if there is something that I can help with in the future,

please let me know."

"I don't want to commit and then disappoint you."

"Oh, I wish I could; “Maybe some other time."

"It sounds like something that I would enjoy doing, but currently I'm not taking on any new responsibilities."

"I’d love to help, but I have already overextended myself."

“I can’t do (whatever the request is), but I can do (something that you are willing to do).”

“Please let me think about it and get back with you on (day or date).”

“It sounds like a great opportunity, but I’m going to have to pass on this one.”

The more you consider your needs and value your time the easier saying “no” will become.

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
in Etiquette & Social Situations on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Etiquette & Social Situations?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (2)

Oooh, this is really good! And something I'd wish I'd learned many years ago as a child, because learning to say no was hard, but it is doable and it is nice not to feel responsible for doing things that you really wouldn't think about doing as well as feeling pressured because of not wanting to disappoint others.

This is really excellent. Im with Sara and Clairsie, I wish I had learnt to say no earlier, I would have a had a lot less stress and guilt. Thanks thesassydiva! x