5 Ways To Say “No” Without Hurting Someone’s Feelings

Saying “no” can be really hard, but we are going to discuss about how to say “no” without hurting others.

You must have probably had this conversation with your friend, family member, boss or a co-worker. The conversation where they ask you to do them a favor that you really don’t want to do, but you agree to do anyway. This isn’t because the other person has a remarkable ability to manipulate you, but because it would have been harder for you to say no.


Luckily, there are a few tricks to say no without feeling guilty as long as you don’t do it in an aggressive way.

1. Sandwich your refusal between two positive statements or compliments

Use this simple trick: Start by thanking the other person for thinking of you, give a polite refusal, then end on a positive note.

For example, let’s suppose that your neighbor is moving to a new apartment and in the last minute asking your help in order to move their furniture. You have to prepare for an important exam hence you are too busy to help.

You could say, “Thank you for asking, but Unfortunately, I am really busy studying for my exam.

I wish I could help you, but I have so many things to study. Normally I would be able to, but I have to prepare for the exam which I have to appear tomorrow.

2. Choose a standard refusal phrase

Finding the right words to say “No” by using couple of phrases.

“That sounds great, but I can’t make it this time. I have other plans already. I really appreciate for asking, but I am not going to be able to make it this time”

3. Don’t use an excuse

When saying “no,” you’ll be interested to offer a reason because you don’t want to sound rude. However, providing an excuse gives people a reason to contest your decision. As an example they will try to help you out with your excuse in order to receive your help. They will not consider or feel your interest in the matter.

Therefore, too much information will only lead to problems and demonstrate that you feel guilty about saying no.

All you have to say is “no, I’m not able to” or “no, I don’t have enough time right now”. Also Feel free to throw phrases like “but thank you for asking/thinking of me”

4. Signpost them to an alternative or offer help at a later date

We should never refrain from helping our friends, parents or coworkers.  If you want to help but you are not in position to do it, then suggesting another person who could help them instead or another way to offer help at a later date.

You can use: “I want to do that, but I’m not available now. Will you ask me again ….  then?”

5. Tell them about your personal rules

You will normally feel upset with decisions you make to declined invitations which does not match your personal rules. But you need to make an effort to focus on the good that will come from saying no, not the regret or guilt you feel about the rejection which you have expressed.

Remember, the world won’t end just because you refuse to let yourself be used as a servant.

If a person who gets offended when you politely decline an invitation or request, you probably should not attach to them anymore.

Whatever the case may be, focus on the positive outcome of your effort to give good no.

Chamalee Kapukotuwa

I am a Business Management graduate from the University Of Staffordshire (UK) and a qualified personnel officer who completed the National Diploma of Training and Human Resource development at Institute of Personnel Management (Sri-Lanka).

Apart from my professional career in the field of HRM, I am also a freelance writer of web and business contents.