It is is not easy to get the right tone of voice, for example to politely decline when we are asked to go somewhere with someone, do something for someone , be at a certain place at a certain time, etc. …
At times like these, many of us are overcome by guilt and responsibility; we feel we really ought to say ‘Yes’ … but really, we want to say ‘No’.
Allow yourself to say ‘No’. Here are 10 ways to answer those difficult and embarrassing questions …
1. Use modal verbs – could, might, should, would
I would have loved to have come, but I don’t think I can – I might have come, but I have another engagement
2. Put things into a questions
Would it be OK if I came on another occasion? – Might/Could I come back to you?
3. Express some doubt
I don’t suppose you could ask me again in a few days time?
4. Be apologetic, even for small things
Sorry to disappoint you, but I might not be able to attend.
5. Use If – If followed by will, would, can or could
If you don’t mind, I will look at my diary and come back to you – If you wait a few days, I could get back to you.
6. Use past tense, even though talking about the present
I thought we could have a chat about it – I was wondering if we could talk about it? – I wanted to ask you a question about it.
7. Include the person’s name
Robert, I am awfully sorry but I don’t think I can come.
8. Use polite phrases, eg Sir/Madam etc
Madam, can I consult my diary and get back to you.
9. Be approximate and indirect, rather than specific
Would it be OK if dropped in more of less around midday?