5 Ways To Say “NO” Nicely


Recently, I’ve jumped into the world of startup consulting/advising. It’s an extremely fun role and it gives me numerous opportunities to work with different startups in different industries.



When I first started off, I said yes to every startup that came my way. I quickly realized that this was a bad idea. Even though I wanted to help everyone, I really couldn’t.



My own businesses would suffer and the other startups wouldn’t get the ultimate value they deserved from me. I quickly had to learn to say “NO” without hurting other peoples feelings.



I realized that if I wanted to make the best decisions for myself and for others, I had to learn to say “NO” nicely. In this article, I share 5 ways to say “NO” nicely.



1. “I’d love to help, but my other time commitments just don’t allow me to at this time.” 


This was probably the number one reason why I couldn’t help out startups even though I really wanted to. I had other commitments to projects, startups, and my own businesses that really took up a lot of my time.



By saying it in this way, you express the fact that you would work with them only if you could. Let the other person know that your plate is full, but this person can make future requests to see if anything changes.



2. “I’m currently involved in XYZ, but it might better to re-connect at X time when I’m less tied up.” 


I’ve had to pass up consulting deals and many other opportunities by saying this same exact thing. While I wanted to take up new tasks and things to do, I simply couldn’t do it without going insane.



So, I decided to leave these opportunities open if people wanted to wait. I nicely let people know what’s keeping me extremely busy right now, when that commitment will end, and how I’d still be willing to help them after I’m done.



3. “I’m not the best person to help you with this. However, you can try XYZ or reach out to XYZ people.”


This is something I’ve had to say a lot of times. I’ve had people who have approached me with business opportunities in the alcohol industry before. I tell them that I’m not really the best person for this job since I’m not even 21 yet.



When I do say “NO” this way, I try to see if there is anything I can do to help these individuals out regardless. I’ll refer them to people I know or give them suggestions that shows that I care about their project, but just don’t feel like I’m the right fit.



4. “I appreciate the opportunity or request, but I’m not interested.”


As any business person or entrepreneur knows, many people are going to approach you at some point to join networking companies. I’ve received many of those requests and I’ve rejected all of those.



I don’t undermine their business model or anything, I simply just don’t like that route for myself. Whenever I get a request like this, I typically thank them for the opportunity but respectfully decline. The key to saying “NO” this way is to ensure that you don’t comment negatively towards what is being pitched.



5. “No, thank you.”


The easiest and most simple way to say “NO” is by doing it this way. All it takes is 3 words and it’s a polite way to decline an invite or opportunity to do something.



However, often times you will get people who will try to continue asking you or pushing you to say “YES” to them. The key to saying “NO” this way is to stay true to your answer and refuse to give into pressure.





Saying “NO” was a skill that took me a while to learn. I only figured out the art of saying “NO” once things started to get crazy for me. I highly recommend other entrepreneurs to also understand the value of saying “NO”.



photo credit: Daniel*1977 via photopin cc

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