Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

15 Polite Ways to Say "Thanks, But No Thanks" to Taking on More Work

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We all want to be more efficient and productive. For many of us, one of the greatest obstacles to achieving those goals is having a hard time saying “no.”

Here are 15 phrases you can have at your disposal the next time you’re tempted to overcommit yourself. Practice saying them politely and kindly, but firmly and unapologetically.

  1. “No, but thank you for asking!”

  2. “Thanks, but let me get back to you.”

  3. “Sorry, not now, but maybe next time.”

  4. “I simply just cannot say yes.”

  5. “Thank you, but I am not the right person to be asking. Let me make some suggestions.”

  6. “Let me check a few things, but it would be best to plan on working without me.”

  7. “Before I can say yes, I would have to be very clear about what is expected.”

  8. “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do it—but let me help you find someone who can.”

  9. “I can’t take on the whole task, but maybe I can help you with part of what you need.”

  10. “I seriously would love to help but I am unable to at this time.”

  11. “I’m sorry but there is already too much on my plate.”

  12. “Thank you for thinking of me, but unfortunately I will have to pass.”

  13. “I am not taking on any new commitments right now.”

  14. “I’m so sorry, I just cannot make it work.”

  15. “I wish I could help, but at the moment I just can’t.”

Learn how to say these phrases with confidence and respect. Because sometimes saying “no” to someone else is really saying yes to yourself.

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