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No is the new yes: Handy phrases for saying no politely

Do you frequently find yourself overextended and resentful? Do you say yes to requests, even when a twinge in your gut tells you it’s not what you want? Do you worry that others will be upset with you or reject you because you’ve told them no?

Saying no to requests, favors and opportunities is just as essential to our well-being as saying yes. It enables us to spend our time and energy how we’d really like to, which in turn, allows us to be more effective and dedicated to what is most important to us.

Here are some handy phrases you can use to dip your toes in the new waters of saying, “No.”

Let me think about it.

OK, so this isn’t exactly saying no. But it gives you mental space and time to consider what you really want to do. If the request is something you’re willing to take on, great. If not, you can practice how you want to say no.

I’ll get back to you if I’m able to do it.

Somewhat open ended, this is another way of giving yourself time to consider your options. To avoid keeping the other party hanging, you could add a time frame, such as, “I’ll get back to you within the next day or two if I’m able to do it.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t help this time.

Even though a sorry isn’t necessary (no is the only real explanation you need), it can help those of us “yes” junkies feel more comfortable letting someone else down. It’s a whole lot better than agreeing to something you don’t want to do.

Thank you, but I’m going to pass.

This is a great one for any request, from a hand me down piece of furniture to a last-minute invite to a concert you’re not really jazzed about, to a work opportunity that doesn’t feel quite right. It’s an acknowledgment of the offer without signing up for something you don’t want.

I’m not able to, but I can direct you to the appropriate person.

This is a useful response both for patients and their families, as well as healthcare workers across all disciplines, who are asking something of you that either isn’t in your job description, you don’t have time for, or that isn’t an immediate priority.

I’m afraid I can’t. I have plans that day.

Your plans might be that you have no plans. Or that you know whatever you do include, it will not involve the request at hand. You might want some alone time, you might want to see if a friend is free for a last-minute lunch, or you might want to take a nap. Whatever it is, you’re previously engaged. And no one can argue with that!

Your turn

Do you need help saying no? Which of those phrases can you see yourself using?

By | 2021-05-27T11:40:00-04:00 July 30th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|0 Comments

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