Just say “no!”
Call it a pet peeve, but it drives me crazy when people respond to my request with a “maybe” when clearly, they want to say “no.” Don’t get my hopes up with a “maybe.”
Saying maybe only delays the discomfort temporarily. Eventually, they will still have to say “no.” The delay of the inevitable, the avoidance, the bs answer only makes it more difficult.
Everyone asking for help, extending an invite or making a request is well aware they may be turned down. And though none of us like that rejection, it does go with the territory. We don’t get everything we ask for.
The inability to decline a request only complicates things. Being turned down is acceptable. Maybe not our preference, but certainly acceptable and manageable.
Being told “Maybe…maybe I’ll make it. Maybe I can do that for you. Maybe I’ll be there” when it’s obvious that won’t happen is frustrating. It keeps us hopeful. It keeps us waiting and thinking our invite might actually be accepted.
Eventually we have to step up and take personal responsibility. We need to communicate directly and use common courtesy. The other person is waiting on our response, planning around our possible “yes.” Often in their minds, it’s as if we already said “yes.”
When we are asked to attend a meeting or help with a project or offer support that we either cannot or do not want to do, we have to say so. Preferably right then and there. On the spot.
If you know the moment you’re asked for help that you aren’t available (or interested), say it. Say “no” in whatever form suits the situation. Whether it’s a family member, a neighbor, a close friend or a colleague, your response can be the same.
The way to say it should sound something like:
- “No thank you, I’m not going to be able to help with that.”
- “No, I’m sorry. It’s not possible this time.”
- “No, I wish I could help but I’m already committed.”
- “No, thanks for asking but I’m overwhelmed with commitments at the moment.”
- “No. I appreciate the offer but that’s just not my thing.”
- “No, I’m not going to be able to help you out.”
- “Sorry to disappoint you, but I can’t make it.”
- “Thanks for thinking of me but I won’t be able to join you.”
- “You know, I appreciate the invite, but I’ve done that and it’s just not for me.”
Guidelines for turning down a request look like this:
1. Don’t hesitate.
2. Keep it short.
3. Don’t explain.
4. Leave no doubt.
5. Be courteous.
Essentially, keep it simple. Tell the truth and be sure you were understood.
Don’t say “maybe” when you mean “no.” You’ll save time. Avoid prolonged discomfort. Eliminate their wondering and no longer be chased for your answer. No one likes to be strung along. No one wants to wait and wonder. Without answers, it’s difficult to plan.
Next time someone in your life makes a request, asks a favor, or shares an invite, give your honest answer. Say it clearly, courteously and with grace, but say it.