Whether you’ve received an invitation to join a board or committee or simply to hang out with friends, we come across new opportunities all the time. Try as we might to prove otherwise, the ugly truth is that we can’t do everything. Still, saying “no” is never an easy thing to do, but it is an important skill to learn. If you’re agonizing over the art of the decline, here are some strategies for saying “no” without alienating your friends and colleagues:
Nobody likes a flip-flopper. Not only will you drive people crazy by going back and forth trying to make a decision, but if you are that torn, you will probably end up saying “no” anyway. If you already said “yes,” stick to it. The one thing people hate more than a flip-flopper is a flake.
Don’t Make Excuses
You can be direct and honest without being rude or annoying. Saying “I’m too busy,” and “I’m tired” may be the truth, but they are terrible excuses because everyone is busy and tired. Saying “I can’t make it,” when you really just don’t want to go is an equally bad excuse. Learn how to kindly and firmly say, “I am not going to make it. I have a conflicting engagement” instead- it sounds better and a lot less harsh.
Offer An Alternative
Taking a genuine interest in people can go a long way, even if you’re not available all the time. Missed your friend’s dinner party? Call the host and ask her out for coffee to hear all about how it went. Can’t join the event planning team? Offer to sponsor a table or make a donation.
Photo Credit: Joshua Hoffman via Flickr