How to say ‘No’ politely – 10 Ways out of a Predicament
It is is not easy to get the right tone of voice – for example to politely decline when we are asked to go somewhere, do something, or be at a certain place and at a certain time.
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’.
How can you avoid feeling guilty? How can you say ‘No’?
Here are 10 ways to answer those difficult and embarrassing questions …
1. Use modal verbs (i.e. 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 question
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 the past tense even though speaking of the present
I thought we could have a chat about it – I was wondering if we could talk? – I wanted to ask you a question about it.
7. Include the person’s first 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.