35 ways to say no

35 ways to say no

If you’re anything like me, you struggle with overcommitting yourself – and even more, you struggle with how to say no when you need to or want to.

I love to feel like I’m wanted, and I love to be helpful to other people. Saying no might be one of the hardest things for me, because I never want to turn down an opportunity to help other people. I don’t like to turn down opportunities, period.

That leaves me with just a few options that I don’t really love when it comes to “saying no” when I really need to – none of which are transparent, honest answers where I tell someone no. I ignore people’s emails or messages until their deadline for whatever they needed from me is passed, or I take on whatever I’m being asked to do even though I know I won’t be able to get it done.

I decided to sit down and research new and improved ways to say no. I wanted to share those with you, because I figure I’m not the only one in this boat.

Let’s be clear: I recommend saying no to someone’s request in the most suitable, professional way for the situation.

For example, the way that I’ll say no to my boss is very different than the way I would say no to a client. How I would say no to a client is very different than the way I’d say no to a friend. How I would say no to a friend is very different than the way I’d say no to a stranger.


  1. No.
  2. I have another commitment.
  3. I can’t make it.
  4. I’m unavailable.
  5. Thank you for thinking of me, but I won’t be able to.
  6. Not at this time.
  7. I can’t then, but could we try again another time?
  8. I’m sorry, I’m busy.
  9. I need to pass on this.
  10. I wish I could, but I won’t be available.
  11. That’s not going to work for me.
  12. Unfortunately, that’s not something I can do at this time.
  13. I am overcommitted right now.
  14. Could we follow up on this at a later date?
  15. Unfortunately, I can’t prioritize this right now.
  16. It sounds great, but I can’t.
  17. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.
  18. I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you at this time.
  19. I’m not taking on anything else right now.
  20. I don’t have any flexibility in my schedule right now.
  21. I’m not able to fit this in right now.
  22. I’m in the middle of a high priority project right now.
  23. I will have to take a raincheck.
  24. I know how important this is, but I won’t be able to assist.
  25. This isn’t doable for me right now.
  26. I wish I could, but I can’t!
  27. I won’t be able to, but I can suggest some other people who could help.
  28. It’s not a good time for me right now.
  29. Perhaps another time.
  30. It doesn’t sound like the right fit for me.
  31. I won’t be able to dedicate the time necessary.
  32. This isn’t a good fit for me.
  33. I’m honored, but I can’t.
  34. Let me think about that.
  35. I’ll get back to you on that.

How To Say No


Do you have trouble saying no?

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