How to be both direct and polite

Do you find it hard to say no? The problem many people have with saying no is that they don’t want to offend or upset people, or they are afraid it will damage the relationship in some way. Here are some top tips for saying no and being polite from Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever...

be Direct1. Make it clear you understand their position or the invitation

Rather than just saying no, which can feel a bit too direct, start by acknowledging the request. Make it clear that you understand their circumstances, some examples:

‘What a lovely thing to organise…’
‘That’s a tough situation, I understand that you are probably feeling a bit overstretched with all that going on..’
‘That’s a tight deadline, I can see that..’

2. Say no without over explaining

There is no need to over justify yourself, except in some work situations perhaps. If they want to know more they will ask you. If you over explain you unintentionally give people permission to pry and dig into your personal affairs that you may not want. Also don’t blame other people, your partner, work or children because that’s unfair on your partner or children. Here are some examples of good ways to do it:

‘I’m going to say no on this occasion with everything else I have on right now’
‘I don’t have any spare capacity to help you with that at the moment’
‘I wouldn’t be able to start looking at it until…’

3. Close it off

Don’t leave it hanging with an opportunity for the person to come back with another angle or feeling bad about asking. Close it off in a respectful way that makes it clear what you would like to do in future or that you still value the relationship. Here are some examples:

'If you do anything like this again, please do ask me as it’s something I am interested in doing'
'I hope you can find some way of getting round this, I appreciate it’s not easy.'
'If it’s still ongoing in a few weeks time, please ask me again as I think I’ll be a bit freer by then.'

Find out more ways to communicate your time boundaries well in Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever by Karen Meager & John McLachlan. Available in e book and paperback from bookshops, Amazon and directly from Monkey Puzzle

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Karen Meager

Founder of Monkey Puzzle and an INLPTA NLP Master Trainer, Karen is also a UKCP registered Psychotherapist and author of the award winning book Real Leaders for the Real World. Her new book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever is out now.

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