24EN Editor's Note:While saying yes can take us down some wonderful roads, theres also a ton of value in saying no. Were only given a certain amount of hours in our lives; do you really want to give yours away so easily? If you dont have to time to commit to a new project, complete a favor, or serve on another committee, its a good idea to just say no.
The problem comes when saying no will put you in an awkward situation. Maybe you feel bad turning down the invitation to a coworkers bridal shower or youre worried that saying no to your cubicle buddy will cost you opportunities down the line. What you need in your back pocket is a way to say no gracefullyand thats just what Ive got for you today. Consider them Get out of Jail Free cards for grown-ups.
For requests in the workplace:
同事之间：Im sorry, but I just have a lot of other responsibilities on my plate. I really cant give that project the attention it deserves.
I love your ideas, and I know a few people who might be great matches for your project.
You know, this isnt really my area of expertise, but I know a few great resources. Let me write them down for you.
Id love to help, but Im on a strict deadline for the next few days. Let me know if theres any way I can help another time.
Id love to come to your [creepy after-hours direct marketing] party, but Im babysitting for a friend that evening. (I highly recommend brainstorming a few truthful excuses as to why you wouldnt be able to go: make plans to call your mom, to catch up with an old friend, or to finally do whatever task it is that youve been putting off.)
Im sorry, but as a general rule I dont participate in [insert activity or favor here]. If theres another way I can help, let me know.
For a friends event you cant attend:
Im busy that afternoon. Why dont you and I get together for brunch next week instead?
I wish I could come, but Ive got a family thing I cant back out of. I hope everyone has a great time.
Thanks for thinking of me! That evening isnt good for me, but Id love to come another time. (Remember, only say another time if you really mean itotherwise, youre wasting the other persons time.)
No, I wont be able to make it, but please let me know how it goes.
I really need some downtime, so Ill have to pass. Email me a picture if you can and tell everyone hi for me.
When youd rather have a root canal:不知道说啥的时候：My child/dog/cat has severe diarrhea, so I really have to get home. Thanks for the invite, though!
我家宝宝/狗狗/猫咪得了痢疾，我得回家照看。不过谢谢你的邀请！I have to apologize. I think Ive got the beginnings of a migraine, so Id better lay low tonight. I hope you have a great time!
Or, try the Scarlett OHara option: Why that sounds lovely! You will tell me how it went, wont you? Youre such a doll! Then book it out of therefast!
And heres the nuclear option. If someone really wont take no for an answer for a non-work hours event, this should get them to let it go: Im sorry but Ill be all tied up then. Thats bondage night at my house.