Learning to say ‘no’ gracefully

Saying ‘no’ is a difficult challenge specially then when at one hand you don’t want to sound rude and on the other, you have something far more important thing to accomplish.

What to do then?

Should we say ‘no’ to the requests of our fellow beings?

Or accept whatever they would like us to do?

First of all, if you say ‘yes’ to everything, you are actually saying ‘no’ to your priorities and time. As your time is limited on this earth (most people don’t realize this), you don’t want to do something that doesn’t serve you or your priorities.

Secondly, if you say ‘no’, you are not rejecting the person, but the idea that the person wants you to involve in.

Thirdly, saying ‘no’ is a good way to be authentic rather than to sign up for being something without your consent.

Fourthly, you will miss something anyway and you cannot do everything in your lifetime. You need to know what you would exchange your time for (even a few hours) and thus you need to be wise in selection.

Here’s the truth –

You cannot appease everyone and everything with only 24 hours a day.

Understanding the reasons are not the difficult part, doing it is.

I will articulate few gracious steps to say ‘no’. Though I am not at all perfect at it, but I use these ways to say ‘no’ to things (not people as they are) –

1. When you receive a request to do something, but you don’t want to do –

Say it lovingly that you would love to do it, but your plate is full now and you will not be able to keep their requests as of now.

Examples – Attending a party; Meeting someone on a short notice; Giving a recommendation based on their current products; Invitation of any promotional event

2. When someone asks you to do something for them, but you don’t think you should do it – 

Never apologize in this case. Here you need to be specific. Say things like, doing something for you is amazing, because you really mean a lot; but this time, I have to say ‘no’ because I have to _________ (you can mention things like – “write my novel and I have a deadline”/ “complete a project”/ “take my wife to somewhere”/ “have a tight budget”.

No matter what you say, the most important things here are the value of your time and the urgency of the specific things you want to exchange your time for.

Examples – E-mail requests; Writing for someone; Writing a letter of praise; Giving someone something (in kind or money)

3. When people jump over and try to steal your time – 

Say ‘no’ directly. In this case, I use things like – You know how busy I am right now. I love you but I have no time right now.

Examples – When people expect you to receive their every call; Expecting every message/email to be answered; Asking to spend time with you.

You may offend a lot of people when you say ‘no’ and they may/may not withdraw their love for you. But you cannot adhere to everything in your life. Somethings are your priorities and some are excesses which you need to let go of (remember, I am not talking about people here, but requests, things, ideas, projects).

Remember these three words –

Priority is prosperity

And prosperity doesn’t mean only money, rather it means more than money, it is time prosperity, work prosperity and life prosperity.

I will leave you with a beautiful quote I have read a long time ago by Kahlil Gibran –

They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.

~ Kahlil Gibran

Stay well and say ‘no’ gracefully 🙂


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