Do you ever struggle with saying “no”? If you get so anxious about declining a request that you end up going against your better judgment and saying “yes” or avoiding the conversation altogether, here are a few ways to authentically voice exactly what you need to say.

  1. “Let me think about that.”

Sometimes, you’re just not sure you want to say “yes.” If it just doesn’t feel right or it is a request that deserves more than a knee-jerk reaction, say, “Let me think about that and get back to you.”  Especially if you are someone who says “yes” much too quickly and ends up regretting it, this statement should become a habit.  It gives you the breathing space to process the request and build the courage to be honest in your response. Then, if the answer is “no,” one of the next three statements can be your follow up.

  1. “That’s not going to work for me.”

Whether it is a conflict in your schedule or a conflict in values, “that’s not going to work for me” is a boundary-setting statement. It indicates that your decision is about your needs and/or boundaries.  If there is a negotiation to be had about the request, it communicates that the only way to get to a “yes” is for the person that made the request to adjust the request so that your needs are met.

  1. “I wish I could say yes.”

Especially when you feel badly about saying “no,” expressing that you wish you could say yes is a way to acknowledge this is not something you take lightly.  You want to be able to help, but you simply cannot.

  1. “No.”

Every “no” does not require an explanation. Sometimes a simple, “Thanks, but no thanks,” is really all you need to say. Especially if you have a habit of saying “no” tacked on by a long explanation that eventually turns into a yes.  Try saying “no” and then stop yourself from saying anything else. No is a complete sentence.