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How To Say No Gracefully

Before we can feel comfortable saying No, it’s a good idea to be clear that we know we want to say No.

Next time someone asks you to do something, try following these steps:

  1. Take a breath to give yourself time to check in with yourself.

  2. Tune in to your body’s reaction to the request– do you feel open and expansive, or can you feel yourself tensing up? Often our body is sending us a clear message about our real feelings, but if we don’t take the time to tune in, we might miss it.

  3. Ask yourself- do I really want to do this?

  4. If I say Yes to this, what am I saying No to?

  5. Is saying Yes to this, in alignment with my values, goals and priorities?

If the answer is Yes, then, by all means, say Yes and jump in wholeheartedly.

If the answer is No, however, how do we say it in a way that honors our own boundaries, as well as being respectful to the person making the request?

When faced with a request for our time that we don’t want to say Yes to, we could just say No – but that is often rather rude, or at the very least abrupt and may well cause hurt feelings.

Another option many of us default to (and I have to plead guilty here too) is to make an excuse or tell a white lie. We’ve all been there, right?

The problem with this response is, it’s simply not true, and telling a lie makes us feel yucky. We always have time, I mean we all have the same 24 hours in a day, but the truth is, we’d prefer to do something else with our time.

I heard an episode of Marie Forleo TV recently, in which she was interviewing author and speaker Bob Burg. I just loved his suggestion for saying No gracefully.

“Thank you so much for asking; while it’s not something I’d like to do, please know how honored I am to be asked.”

What I like about using this phrase, or something similar, is that it not only honors the person asking, it is also honest and respectful of our own values and priorities.

Bob suggests customizing this template in your own words, and rehearsing it ahead of time, so you feel comfortable saying it when you are put on the spot.

Please let me know how it goes!


Hi, I'm Julie!

I'm an expert Spanish-English translator and interpreter, happy to help you bridge the language gap!


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