Better Ways to Say "No" to a Client, Boss or Co-worker

Better Ways to Say "No" to a Client, Boss or Co-worker

Respect yourself and respect others

“No!” It’s an easy word for children to say to adults and for adults to say to children. So why it is so hard for adults to say it to other adults?

It’s such a small word, but it packs within it so much overt, implied, intimated and interpreted meaning. All that meaning is what makes it so difficult to say.

For example, when you say no, you may be concerned that the other party will interpret your “no” as “I don’t value you enough to do this for you.” That’s certainly not a good message to send if you want to continue your business relationship with the other party.

That is also probably not what you mean (most of the time). What you probably mean is “I have so much on my plate right now, I do not have time or ability to put my whole effort into what you are asking.”

Does that fear of misinterpretation mean you’re just going to say yes to everything so that you don’t make a bad impression?

No! (Easy for me to say, right?)

Here are 5 ways to say no and stand your ground – while still letting the other party know you respect and appreciate them.

1. I don’t have time right now, but I will let you know when I do.

This shows that you really do value the asker and want to help. This gives them the option of either waiting for you to do it, or deciding they do not want to wait and asking someone else to do it. (If they’re the kind of person who is constantly asking for things, this may help them realize the reality of how much they’re asking and think twice before asking again.)

2. Normally I would, but I have a lot on my plate right now.

Keep this vague. Do not say whether what is on your plate is business or personal. If your boss asks you to stay late, it is okay to say that you have family commitments, but you don’t have to go into any more detail.

When you can, offer alternatives. For example, “I can’t stay late today, but let me look at my schedule and see when I can.” “I can’t stay late, but I can come in early.” Giving someone alternative ways you can help shows that you value their needs and desires, but it also shows that you are a person and do not want to be taken advantage of. If this happens often, don’t be afraid to ask to be compensated for your time.

3. I am really sorry, but this time I am going to have to decline.

What is good about this is you are saying that you really wish you could help, but you can’t. By saying “this time” you are showing that most times you do not or will not decline. You can explain why this time is different if you feel comfortable doing so and think it would benefit your working relationship, but don’t feel pressured to.

4. I do not have time to work on this on my own, but would happy to help whoever does.

This again shows that you are willing to help, but you do not have time to do all the work. You show commitment and willingness to contribute to the team.

5. This is how much it costs and I can’t give a discount.

Everybody is always looking for a good deal, but if you have a product and think it is worth what you charge, it is okay to tell the customer that.

If you have alternatives, you can give them. For example, you can tell the customer that if they buy X at full price, you can give a discount on Y. That will not only show the customer that you are willing to give, but you may end up making more in sales if they take you up on your offer.

Saying no can be tough, but if you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decide that “no” is the answer here – stick to your guns. Your boss or client just might value you more if show how you value yourself. And if you choose your words wisely, you’ll also show them how you value THEM… and this “no” might just take your business relationship to a new level.


DebbieSubmitted by Debbie