Only one of a businessperson’s many challenges is saying no to people. We have to be able to say no to vendors and co-workers and customers, clients and potential clients. Making friends is hard because sometimes you need to disappoint people without hurting their feelings. Saying no to people—especially when it comes from a place of feeling overloaded—can be difficult. It can also make them feel angry, which can make you feel worse than if you’d just said “yes” initially. Learning how to say no to people is hard—and in business, it’s vital to learn how. Simple requests can become major time drains and even lead to conflicts if you don’t know how to handle them the right way. However, it’s possible to incorporate a lot of grace into your no-saying process, saving yourself tons of time and stress. Here are some ways you can say no without making anyone hate you. This can be difficult but with the correct tools, it’s not impossible.
Set boundaries and stick to them
Setting boundaries is the first step in learning how to say no without making people hate you. It’s also the hardest part because it involves standing up for yourself, which is not something that comes naturally to most of us.
But if we want to get better at saying no and still be liked by our friends, family, and coworkers, then setting boundaries is a must. And if we don’t want to be resented for saying no, then we need to learn how to do it in a way that doesn’t make people hate us!
You have to set boundaries and stick to them, in order to avoid people taking advantage of you. If you don’t, it’s easy for others to take advantage of your good nature and get away with things that they wouldn’t if you had said no from the start.
If a client asks for something unreasonable, or if you’re feeling overworked and stressed, it’s important that you don’t just give in and say yes. Instead, you should set boundaries from the beginning so that clients know what they can expect from working with you.
Be gracious and give context as to why you can’t do it
When you’re on the receiving end of a “no,” it’s easy to feel disappointed. But when you’re the one saying no, it can be even more difficult—especially when you know that the person asking will take your rejection personally.
That’s why it’s so important to be gracious and give context as to why you can’t do something, especially if it means someone else is getting your “no” instead of them.
A simple way to do this is by saying something like: “I’m sorry, I just don’t have the time right now.” You might also want to explain what your priorities are, or give an update on when you might have an opening for their request. This helps show that there isn’t anything personal about your decision, and also gives them insight into how they can make future requests more compelling for you.
Offer alternatives if possible
Saying no to requests is hard, but it’s necessary.
You may not be able to give the exact thing they’re asking for, but you can always offer them something else.
If they’re requesting a product that you don’t have, suggest another product instead. If they’re asking for a service that you don’t provide, ask if there’s anything else you can do to help them.
You might be surprised at how often people will accept an alternative suggestion instead of walking away upset!
Recognise and thank the other person for their efforts
The best way to say no to people without making them hate you is to recognize and thank the other person for their efforts.
It’s important to recognize that the person who is asking for something from you has worked hard and that their request is coming out of nowhere. They’ve put in time and effort, and they deserve a response that acknowledges that work.
You might even want to express interest in what they are doing! You can ask questions like “How did you decide on this approach?” or “What made you think of this solution?” This will help them feel validated by your response, and they’ll be more likely to accept your rejection gracefully.
Follow up with them to close the loop
If you’ve said no to an offer, don’t be afraid to follow up with the person who made it. Let them know that you did appreciate the gesture and that you’re just not able to accept it in this case.
You don’t want them to think that you’re rude or ungrateful.
Nobody likes to say no because, 9 times out of ten, it’s not a fun experience. However, as much as we might hate to say no, it is necessary and it is often warranted so you really shouldn’t feel bad about it. People will sometimes be thankful you did. So learn the art of saying no correctly and without feeling guilty or without making people disappointed in you. Think of all the ways you can say no, and how you can compose yourself when delivering bad news. Being diplomatic is no easy feat, but it’s a skill set worth developing if you work with other people and need to tell them “No” from time to time.