How to Decline a Request:Sample Letter Politely

What You Say When You Write A Letter And Need To Say No:
A Sample Letter

By Letitia Baldrige

“Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide To Executive Manners” is the definitive book in its field.   We think it is simply wonderful and refer to it often.  Highly recommended.
–Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

Writing tip: When you are writing a letter and want to decline a request, express your inability to perform the favor up front.  Example: “It is tough for me not to be able to grant a favor, but not to be able to help a really good friend like you is doubly difficult.”

Give a short account of what you did to solve the problem. Example: “I immediately called Pete on receipt of your letter to see if I could get the deal back on the track again.”

(I differ slightly from Baldeidgs on this part of recommendation.  My advice is to keep your explanation to a minimum  Why?  The reader may think you should have done more than you did or done something different  You can say something like “I tried everything, but had no luck.”   Just don’t tell what “everything” is.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Never explain. Your friends won’t require it and your enemies won’t believe it.”)

Your letter  ends with hope for another reunion and a promise to be of assistance in the future.

Example: “Marge sends you and Jen her love. We will have to get together very soon and not wait for another class reunion. And I hope the next time you write, Pete, I will be able to act with the speed of Superman. I had to let you down this time, but I hope that I can make it up to you in the future.”

Adapted and excerpted by Gene Griessman, Ph.D., from “Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide To Executive Manners.”

Giving writing tips is something that Letitia Bladrige was eminently qualified to do.  She was the social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy; her father was a Congressman, and her brother, Howard Malcolm Baldrige, Jr. was Secretary of Commerce.  Ms. Baldrige served on the board of directors of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The Words Lincoln Lived By

“Not a single Lincoln quotation that’s spurious in the entire book.”

“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject.” Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives

A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president.

You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.

Don’t leave yet. You’ve found a goldmine. Check out additional power phrases and unusual quotations.





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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