How to say ‘No’ politely – 10 Ways out of a Predicament

Posted on December 2, 2018 in Copywriting

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.


9.   Be approximate and indirect, rather than specific

 Would it be OK if dropped in more of less around midday?

10.   Use longer words for things

  Could I ruminate over that and get back to you?


Not just a Copywriter - Also a Writing Trainer.
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