Sometimes it's hard to say 'no.' We don't want to hurt the other person's feelings, we may feel guilty, or maybe we want to please everybody. Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that if you always say 'yes', a lot of your time will be spent in completing other tasks that take away from your own. Here are 4 ways you can say 'no' politely, but assertively and still be in good favor:
The Diversion – the diversion is a short, but sweet apologetic response that lets the individual know that you are too busy to help at this time. An example would be, "I am sorry, but my schedule will not permit me to assist you."
The Delay – the delay is letting the person know that you will think about it and get back to them later. Before you send them on their way, gather more information about the time commitment. For example, if the individual is asking for your help on a project or participation on a committee, ask when the project deadline is or how often the committee meets. You can also ask questions like: What are your responsibilities or tasks? How much planning has already been done? This will make the decision making process easier and quicker. You can say, "Let me check my schedule and I will get back to you." Be aware that they will get back to you, so be prepared to give them a response to their request.
The Relay – the relay is passing them on to someone else. Simply, let them know you can't do it and suggest someone else who can.
The Alternative – the alternative let's you take complete control of the situation. Using this method will allow you to set your schedule and if it doesn't fit into their plan, they will speedily leave your presence. You could say something like, "I can help, but I can't do it right now. I will be able to assist you next week." Note: if the person comes back next week and asks again, you can choose to help or let them know that your schedule is full – go back to the diversion method.
In each response, always thank the person for thinking of you and let them know that they should keep you in mind if they need help in the future. Saying 'no' has never been so easy.