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How To Gracefully Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Whether it comes from a drive to take on superhuman amounts of work or a fear of letting something down, so many of us have a hard time saying no.

But the truth is, we’re all only human, which means that we’ve all got a limited amount of time and energy.

Don’t fall into the trap of spending yours on projects that aren’t aligned with the type of life you want to lead.

Instead, learn how to say no, gracefully.

Decide on your boundaries, priorities, and commitments ahead of time.

No one makes their best decisions on the spot, so it’s important that you have a very clear sense of your boundaries and the types of projects to which you’re prepared to commit.

Knowing your priorities will also help you make decisions more easily.

For instance, my daughters are a top priority for me, so I’ve decided that whenever there’s a choice between something they need from me and another project, they’re going to win out.

Saying No

It can be hard to know what to say when you’re in the moment, so try creating a script for saying no ahead of time.

That way you won’t find yourself saying yes just to avoid the awkwardness of a stilted reply.

Keep it simple, and keep it gracious: all you need to do is to acknowledge that the other person has asked you something, say no clearly, and that’s it.

No Means No!

It’s important to stick to your words when you say no, even if you get some push back from the other person.

You don’t need to elaborate on your reasons (although you can, if you choose to), and you don’t need to say sorry — it’s your life, and you are not responsible for everyone’s needs.

What About When You’ve Said Yes Before?

OK, so what about when someone’s asking you to do something that you’ve agreed to do before, but you really don’t want to do now?

Does the fact that you’ve agreed to it before mean you’re locked in for life?

Absolutely not! It’s your life, and you have the right to change your mind and the responsibility to say no to things that aren’t aligned with.

My gift to you: two scripts for gracefully saying no in three sentences or fewer!

The Two Scripts

1. How To Say No

I really appreciate you [thinking of me/asking me to do XYZ/wanting to involve me in ABC]. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me right now. [Optional: give them an alternative, like a recommendation or connection with someone who might be able to do what you’re not going to do.]

2. How To Say No When You’ve Said Yes Before

Thanks for [thinking of me/asking me to do XYZ]. I know in the past I [said yes/was able to do XYZ/have done ABC] but that doesn’t work for me now. [Optional: invite them to figure out an alternative with you, or give them a recommendation of someone else who might be able to help.]

What are your best tips for knowing when to say no, and for saying no?

Let me know by emailing [email protected]!


Love practical tips like this? Me too!

That’s why I created the Master Your Days course.

Click here to learn more.

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