How to Say No While in Business

Approving any request by saying yes may seem like a good thing and many people find themselves saying yes more they should because they are optimists by nature or they just do not want to disappoint others. But saying yes when you shouldn’t may hurt your health, effectiveness, and credibility if you do not end up delivering what you promised.

There is another problem to consider besides saying yes to everything, and that is saying NO poorly when under pressure. It can cause problems in business relationships or make the situation even worse, which can further lead to guilt, regret or even a loss of business.

How to Say No While in Business

A successful business person or entrepreneur must stand by his words and actions. Here are some tips that you can apply in your business routine to say no without hurting anyone’s sentiments or damaging any future opportunities:


1. Establish Some Boundaries and Restrictions


A person who has clear rules, boundaries and their word means something is respected in every field of life. Let your business associates know your boundaries and limits. They will understand that you are not free or have time to accept just any request. Don’t break your rules, stick to them, and never say YES when you actually mean NO.


2. Request for Time to Have a Look at Your Calendar


It is a much better option to go through your calendar and commitments before replying with a speedy yes that you cannot deliver on.

For example, you can say:

“It would be a pleasure to work with you, but I am not quite sure if I have other commitments or not. So, let me get back to you once I go through my to-do list and see what will work.”


3. Put Your No Between Two Positives


Try to say no in a way that doesn’t turn the person off and hurt your relationship.  Always follow the sandwich method by putting your no between two positives. Make your reply more pleasant with a positive and good clarification. For instance, if a customer asks you to go to a meeting, but you have other commitments, what you can do is clarify those commitments (first positive), let him know about the side effects of not fulfilling those commitments (the NO), and wrap it all up by telling them you appreciate their request and will be in touch to see what we can work out (second positive).


4. Say No to The Demand, Not the Person


You are not refusing the person, just refusing his request. Let him recognize that you have respect for him and his request. Be generous and let him know that his request isn’t a problem, but it can’t be accommodated right now because of your current workload or limitation. Once you are able to put this in their mind, they will consider that the rejection is not a personal affront; it is because of your workload.

You can say:

“I would love to get this done for you and really appreciate your consideration, but unfortunately my current workload doesn’t permit me to accommodate your request right now”.


5. Be as Unbendable as They Are Forceful


You will find many people in the business push hard for you to do their work for less cost or as a priority. Rather than accepting their request just for the sake of not having to say no, keep it in mind that not delivering what they are expecting can be even worse. Don’t just bend yourself to their request; try and come up with options and alternatives without giving in.


6. Saying NO to Discounts


You may get a lot of pressure to provide discounts.  New customers may push for a discount so you can earn their business over a competitor.  Existing customers may ask for discounts because they have been working with you for a while. For instance, a realtor who charges 3% commission on a successful deal might be asked by a client to offer a discount by reducing the commission fee to 1.5 or 2%. Saying no to this request would be the right option but you can say it in a way that won’t hurt your relationship with the client and also carry out the deal well and good.

For example, here is what you can say:

“My clients always trust me for having their deals closed successfully and for the best price possible.  It gives me the confidence to stand firm when I’m negotiating on their behalf and make my best effort when I am earning the industry standard rate. We earn our share by representing our clients as successfully as possible.”

If you are known for always negotiating rates and fees that can actually hurt your reputation in the following ways:

  • It implies you don’t have confidence in what you are offering and your willing to “take what you can get”.
  • You inflate your fees/rates as you know you will always negotiate them down.
  • They can ask you for a discount whenever they want to because you don’t stand by your fees and rates.


7. Let Them Know It Is Out of Your Scope or Expertise


If you think that your client or associate isn’t going to understand the reason behind your NO, you can use this tactic that will help to put off a negative message. For instance, if your client is asking for something that isn’t possible for you to do, you can simply let them know that it isn’t doable and is out of your scope.

For example, you can say:

“I appreciate your request for this work but unfortunately my experience, this work is out of my expertise. However, I will try to think of someone who would be able to help you out.”


Always remember to be positive no matter how complex the request is for you because your response will reflect on you and how they view you going forward. Make sure you never go for a yes when you don’t really mean it or can’t deliver the thing they are asking for as it may impact your current relationship with him/her. In short, say NO in a manner that doesn’t make the other person feel like your rejecting them or unwilling to work with them in the future.