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You need to cancel something on someone but you do not know how? Well, there are for example the …
8 ways of saying “no”
- I would like to … but unfortunately I can’t.
- This would contradict my personal maxims.
- I would like to make an alternative suggestion.
- My wife doesn’t want it.
- I would gladly pick up later … but currently I am at full capacity.
- I appreciate your kind offer … but to my opinion even more is possible.
- I need to think about it.
- John can do it much better!
The smart “no”
To my personal opinion, the best way in any case is being open, transparent and honest and letting people not wait for your decision longer than necessary.
If something is going beyond your capabilities … clarify it. If you are fully loaded … say it. If you need time to think about … request it. If you have an even better idea … suggest it. If you have an ethical or fundamental issue … put it on the table.
But do not delay your “no” because you are afraid. Fear is a bad advisor. And in case you are concerned about the possibility of negative consequences of a “no”, promptly document your decision and the underlying justification with a brief mail (optionally with CC to your line manager and/or the project manager).
Be clear with your “no” and be clear with your “yes” without dancing around the cake. And most people will appreciate. Those who do not anyhow don’t care about your opinion. But this is a different story.