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How Can I Say No Gracefully?

  • 15th December, 2015
  • By : Neeraj Tyagi

One quality many successful people possess is their ability to say no without hurting others. As a result, others continue to like, follow and support these successful people. As you grow in all areas of life, “saying no gracefully” is a skill that becomes important to acquire and practice. This skill will also help you live more happily as you are able to set specific and serious boundaries. With this, you will be able to focus on things that are absolutely important and meaningful for successful life.

However, it is not easy to build this skill and once you start building it, it is further not easy to practice in daily professional, personal and social environment. Saying No gracefully requires courage as well as confidence.

Here are five ways that will help you start saying No gracefully.

A smart way to do this is by asking a question or making a statement that would result into “Yes” or “No” as the clear response.


1.      Know who you are – Every person has its individual personality, tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes. When you have a great sense of self-awareness and self-respect then saying No is not a difficult thing to do. You are able to say No easily and effortlessly because you know who you are and you are comfortable with yourself. Few examples are

§  Thanks for remembering me, however I have some other commitment to fulfill.

§  Unfortunately, I will not be able to take up this request. Thanks so much for your time.

§  I truly value what you are doing, I like making contributions directly to people.


2.      Propose suitable option– Sometimes people want to have commitment from you ahead of time so that they are able to plan accordingly. If you are not in a position to say either yes or no due to any reason, then buy time to reconnect later for that decision. If someone insists that you must let them know about your decision as yes or no, then you may say “I do not know”. Few examples are

§  I do not know if I am in town that day. May I request you to check with me next Monday.

§  Is it okay if I confirm you my participation by end of this week?

§  Right now is not a good time to talk, May I request you to call me tomorrow after 12pm please.


3.      Say No with confidence – Saying No definitely requires confidence. Saying No also requires clarity. Once you are clear with why you are saying No, half the battle is won. You will be able to say No knowing your reason. Few examples are   

§  I cannot commit as of now, since I have other priorities.

§  At this point of time, I will not be able to contribute money.

§  I do pro-bono work only on limited basis and for this year it is already committed.


4.      Silence speaks for itself– If someone is not responding to your communication efforts done via different channels like email, phone call, LinkedIn message, Facebook message, WhatsApp etc., it is best to accept the current situation and decide the new course of action. You can be graceful in closing the communication. Few examples are   

§  In the absence of any communication, I consider this request as closed and assume that you are happy with our services.

§  Since I am not able to communicate with you, I am leaving this as our last communication.

§  I will now look forward to hear from you.


5.      Say no with no justification– No is a complete sentence in itself and we can honor it. Once we have accepted this in our life, it will be easier for us to demonstrate this to others. Soon others will also accept it and learn to implement it in their lives. Few examples are   

§  I remember you inviting yourself to our house, I would prefer meeting at a coffee shop.

§  Is there any particular reason, you want to meet?

§  I want to keep things the way they are right now.

I hope you find this useful and would start saying No to things that are not most important for your professional and personal growth.

Neeraj Tyagi is a certified International Executive Coach who helps professionals living the best possible life. Book a session with her at

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