7 Ways to Say, “No,” When It’s Easier to Say, “Yes”

Tough and mean are two different things. Mean is uncaring.

You don’t have to choose between a caring heart and tough decision.

7 Ways to say, “No.”

#1. Declare good intentions.

  1. “I’d love to be helpful, …”
  2. “I wish I could, …”
  3. “I would like to say yes, …”
  4. “I want what’s best, …”

#2. Don’t lie.

Don’t express a desire to be helpful if you don’t feel it.

Hypocrisy is obvious.

#3. Declare a time-frame.

  • “I’d love to be helpful. This time I can’t.”
  • “I wish I could say, “Yes.” This time I have to say, ‘No’.”

#4. Prepare:

Lay the groundwork for, “No,” before you need to say it.

“I’m excited to have our one-on-ones. I want to bring up an important topic. I love saying, ‘Yes.’ There’s going to come a time when I have to say, ‘No.’ When the time comes, how would you like me to do it?”

People might say that they want you to be direct or hear them out. Others might say that they’d like you to explain the reason.

Go back to your discussion when the time comes.  “Remember when we talked about me saying, ‘No.’ This is it.”

Preparation lowers stress.

#5. Soften – don’t harden:

Say, “No,” with gentleness.

Inexperienced leaders might believe that tough is being hardhearted – that you have to say, “No,” with aggression. Perhaps fear makes us choose a rough exterior.

Say, “No,” for helpful reasons. Keep that in mind.

#6. Put your foot down:

Some might interpret gentleness as weakness. Be prepared to be direct.

The choice between gentle and firm is unnecessary.

When a team member tries to change your mind, but there’s no change coming, be direct. But lead with gentleness, even when being firm.

#7. Rehearse:

Develop comfort with saying, “No,” by practicing with a coach or mentor.

How might those who struggle to say, “No,” learn how to say it?

Added resource: How to Say No Assertively to a Request for Your Time