What to Say When No Won't Work

BY Jessica Helinski
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Saying “no” can be difficult. Whether working with a prospect, a client, or a team member, sales reps want to please. But, being able to say no is a valuable skill, notes Lolly Daskal in her article for Inc. “Learning how to stop saying yes when we want to say no depends on several factors,” she explains. It depends on whether you want to be professional or personal, firm or unequivocal, etc. Are you responding personally or professionally? On behalf of your organization or yourself? Do you want the tone to be friendly, maybe even leaving the door open for a next time, or firm and unequivocal? “Whatever form of no you choose, the important thing is that you say it and mean it,” she adds.

Recognizing this can be difficult, Daskal lists 17 different ways to say no, including:

  • I’ve got to go with my intuition and say no.” By bringing up your intuition, you’re making arguing difficult. Who wants to argue against someone’s intuition? Also, most people respect (and relate to) someone’s right to trust his or her gut.
  • I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.” This statement offers a non-​confrontational way to say no, and it’s understated and diplomatic.
  • I need to check with my team.” This is a simple way to deflect the issue onto something bigger and out of your control.
  • You’ve got this.” As Daskal explains, “the most affirming way of saying no is to express confidence that your help isn't really needed at all.” While it’s important to be needed, you have the power to control the situations in which you offer support.

These are just a few examples from Daskal’s article. She reminds readers that when saying no, follow up with an alternative solution. What’s most important in these situations, she adds, is walking away “content in having protected the things that are most important to you by not taking on something you don't need or want.”