How to say "No, thanks"

jasonleow  •  23 Jul 2021

Saying no had always been hard for me.

While I need to continue to work on that need to be liked all the time by everyone, I find it helps a lot by collecting new ways and approaches to say no politely without pissing off the other guy.

This one came from Dave Asprey (surprise surprise), on my social media feed:

Great to hear from you. Taking a break from networking in person because I’m focusing time on new priorities.

Sincerely wishing you the best on your new project.

I love it.

Simple. To the point. Asserting boundaries by giving an reason. Yet polite and positive.

I often used excuses in the past, giving the usual “I’m busy / Snowed under with work etc” which feels kind of untruthful (thought I’m not lying - I’m really busy!).

A little tweak I learned recently was that I don’t really have to explain myself, or provide a reason for saying no. This was a recent reply to an invite to speak at a conference:

Thanks for the invite. Apologies I’m not available for speaking at this event. All the best for your proceedings.

The part I enjoyed about not having to explain why I declined is that it confronts my need to be liked. I worry that people would not look at me disapprovingly if I didn’t at least give them a good reason. But guess what, most of the time, nobody cares. No one is hurt. They got an answer, and they moved on. I’m the only one who’s still holding on to the fleeting exchange.

And true enough, the other guy replied, “Thanks Jason”. No asking why, no reason was expected.

Saying no is really much easier than it feels.


Would it be snarky of me to enjoy the concept of a double negative where you not only say no but also wish that the future endeavor goes down in flames? 🤣 I agree with your tweak about not providing a reason.

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therealbrandonwilson  •  23 Jul 2021, 12:52 pm

I struggle with this as well Jason. Especially the not providing the excuse part. Because 100% of the time, people come back with a work around that excuse and then I am stuck. I get more angry at myself for not saying NO. Definitely something I am getting better at but have miles to go.

keni  •  23 Jul 2021, 10:42 pm

@therealbrandonwilson haha wishing the endeavour goes down in flames - I reserve that for my enemies lol.

@keni yes so true! I experienced that too - giving an excuse and then having to give another one when the other person counters. In the end, just saying no definitively seems to be the easier (but counterintuitive) way

jasonleow  •  24 Jul 2021, 2:50 am