by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
(Adapted from his book “99 Ways To Get More Out Of Every Day.”)

Possessing the intelligence and will to say “No” is highly desirable, but to do it with grace is of infinite value. Only three kinds of people can always get away with just saying “No. ” The very rich, the very powerful, and the very old.

If you want to say “No” in a courteous but effective manner, consider using the following simple formula.

4     Part one. Thank the person. Don’t proceed to the “No” part until you sincerely express your appreciation for being asked or invited.

4     Part two. Tell the person that because of prior commitments you can’t accept his or her request “at this time.” The operative phrase is “at this time.”

4     Part three. It is imperative that you do not volunteer what your other commitments happen to be. You don’t want to have to defend your priorities or explain why you can’t say “Yes” the present request and still take care of your other commitments.

4     Part four. Say something such as, “Please give me a rain check,” or “Don’t hesitate to call on me in the future.”

4     Part five. Change the subject. You might ask a question, such as, “How’s Janet enjoying college?” or “How’s business?”

Make the basic parts of this formula your very own.  Use your own words, but stick to the formula. It will help you decline invitations that you don’t want to accept, keep you from fumbling around or hurting the other person’s feelings, or worse, ending up saying “Yes” when you should say “No.”

Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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