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How to Say “No” With Tact

By June 29, 2012September 7th, 2013No Comments

For some people, saying “No” comes easy. But for others, like myself, those two little letters are a mouthful.

One reason why I struggle with saying “No” is because I love to help people. But realistically I can’t help everyone, as I don’t have the strength or time to do everything I’m asked.

Another common excuse for not saying “No” is just not knowing HOW to do it tactfully and without hurting someone’s feelings.

I came across this list of four suggested ways to say “No” and thought it was quite helpful! Try practicing one of these solutions the next time you find yourself struggling to say that important, but very difficult word.

Start with a Positive: Pick up something that sounds worthwhile about their business or organization or project. Use that as a preface to turning down the job. For example: “Although your non-profit sounds like it does some great community outreach, I cannot afford to do charity work at this time.”

Scheduling Conflict or Budget Constraint: These are probably two of the easiest reasons to decline. “My Schedule has a conflict with that deadline.” Or “I am about to go out of town…” or “I have a conference that week…” or “What kind of budget are you working with? That is outside of my cost. I will have to decline at this time.”

Provide a Solution: If you really have a hard time saying “No.” make a list of other vendors, writers, designers, websites, resources that you could refer someone too. Be prepared when you really need to say no. Then you’ll be ready with a solution and even though you are declining the project, you’ll be helping the other person get their job done. Maybe phrase it like this: “That project would be outside of my expertise, try calling so-and-so. They’ve done some great work in that field.” Or “I don’t trade my services. You may want to contact a local college or university or mentoring program for a student or intern to help out. I suggest…”

Business Goals/Alignment:
If you have your annual or quarterly goals in front of you, you’ll know ahead of time what you can add or not add to your project list. Then it is easier to be upfront and say something like… “I only take on 1-2 non-profit (or whatever their background) projects a year and I’m already committed.”

Read the rest of the 4 Ways to Say “No” with Tact article at the Creative Freelancer Blog.

(photo credit: snigl3t)

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Aaress Lawless

Aaress enjoys helping small businesses and ministries, having budget travel adventures with friends, and blogging about life lessons on Instagram.

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