Etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore shares five top tips on how to say 'no' without offending or hurting someone's feelings.
Online PR News – 03-April-2014 – Palm Beach, Florida – A majority of us are people pleasers by nature and we can’t stop ourselves from accepting every request for help – whether it’s volunteering for the neighborhood association picnic, serving on a board or committee, or buying Girl Scout cookies.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, people will say “yes” to a request simply because saying “no” makes them even more uncomfortable. This is especially true when people have to give their answer face to face, rather than by email.
So why is one tiny word is so hard to say? According to author and etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, it's because one of our most fundamental needs is for social connection and a feeling that we belong. "We worry that saying “no” will change the way the other person views us," says Whitmore.
Here are Whitmore's five top tips on how to say ‘no,’ nicely.
Plan ahead. Rehearse saying ‘no’ ahead of time, just in case you think you might be asked to participate or purchase something.
Delay your response. If a request takes you by surprise, reply by saying, “Allow me to check my schedule” or “Let me think about it.” If you delay your answer, the person asking the favor is more likely to ask someone else.
Start with a positive statement. Always preface your answer by saying something like, “I’m honored that you would ask. However I have another commitment on that day.”
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Resist the temptation to add, “Maybe next time,” unless you mean it.
Stand firm. If a person refuses to take “no” for an answer, stand your ground. Repeat your polite refusal as often as necessary.
Jacqueline Whitmore is the founder and director of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She is also the author of "Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work" and "Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals." She is a frequent guest on FOX Business, CNN, HLN, HuffPost Live and more. For more information on how to hire Jacqueline as your next keynote speaker or to set up a media interview, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.