How to say no when people want you to say yes at work

By July 17, 2019July 18th, 2019Super Mentor Academy

So, someone somewhere wants you to do something at work, but you know you need to say no. What a conundrum! Figuring out when and how to say NO can be a challenge.

Whether you’re working on your side hustle, establishing your own business or have been running your own company for years, there will be times when you need to just turn people down.

Sometimes it might be because an opportunity or task just isn’t what you want to do. But turning someone down can feel like tricky territory, especially if you’re a people pleaser at heart. Other times, you might be really excited by an idea but it just isn’t the right move for your business… at least, not right now.

Either way, you’ve got to be decisive and professional.


Here’s our 4 step process to help you figure out how and when to say no at work.

How to say no when people want you to say yes at work

Will saying yes help you get to where you want to go?

A task or opportunity might sound like an exciting idea but take a moment to think it through. Ask yourself… will the time and effort spent on it bring you closer or further away from your company’s annual business goals?

You’ve got to stay focused!

The point of having business goals is to help you maintain laser-focus on your overall strategy. If you’re picking up extra work just because you think you “should” (there’s that nasty S word again!) or because it sounds exciting, you might get some short term gains. But long term, your business will likely suffer.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s always fun to chase after the shiny, exciting new thing – trust me, I’m like a magpie! But running a successful business means being responsible, disciplined, and strategic.

And if it’s not appealing and doesn’t match with your goals? Well, then the decision should be easy! To say no to someone in this case is as simple as politely letting them know that the opportunity isn’t a match at this time.

Does saying YES align with your company’s core values?

Or would saying NO mean that you’re honoring your core values more than spreading yourself thin? If the opportunity passes step one and aligns with your business goals, you need to think about if it also matches with your core values.

Read about The Simplifiers core values HERE.

They help us make decisions throughout all areas of the business and like our business goals, they help keep us on track. Once you move away from your core values, you and your business lose focus both internally and externally.

Is the timing right?

We’re all busy people trying to fit in work, life, self-care, personal development, family and so much more into our days. Is now really the time to be adding to your schedule?

Take a look at your workload and how it would be changed by saying yes. Don’t forget, a “no” doesn’t have to mean never.

Is there an opportunity to say YES to this later down the line, because maybe the timing isn’t right, right now? Or maybe you’ve got a backlog of existing client work that you need to get through first? There’s no shame in having a waiting list… that means your company is in high demand!

Your template for how to say NO at work.

Ok, so you’ve made the decision to say NO, but struggling with how to come right out and actually say it? Have no fear, we’ve simplified it down for you with our handy dandy template – just adapt it as you see fit!

Here’s how to say NO with grace and professionalism…

“Thank you for thinking of me for this opportunity!

I’m truly honored and humbled at the potential of being part of this. I’m going to have to pass right now, but I would recommend you reach out to _____ as a potential alternative (or let’s circle back in ___ months to discuss this again).

It means so much to me that you thought of me.

Thank you again.”

Bonus points if you can include a couple of referral recommendations (if both parties would be interested!) to likeminded suppliers who could take on the work. Remember, that’s how you become a super connector!

By being direct and honest, you’re doing both of you and them a favor. None of us want to waste time and energy dancing around with one side chasing and the other side stringing them along.

So, that’s our simple process for figuring out when and how to say no at work. Leave a comment below and let us know… what’s one thing you wish you could say no to this week?

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