My mentor sent me an article called “22 Ways to Say No” in which the author lists ways to say no to adding a task that would not be in line with your priorities.
- Encouragement. Saying “I feel you can do this on your own.” You encourage the person to do something they think they need you to do by showing confidence in their ability to find the answer or finish the project.
- Principles. If the task is not in line with your values, you can say so as a matter of principle. “According to my experience, doing that will not be worth the investment of time.” Or, “I don’t do that sort of thing as a matter of principle” (if it is a moral issue).
- Priorities. You can let people know, “I can’t take on new commitments right now, otherwise my existing priorities will suffer.” It shows you want to perform well at what you do, and that person cannot ask you to sacrifice your job or project for theirs.
- Meet half way. As a rejection, offer a “cheap alternative,” such as “Frank, I’m terribly sorry I can’t assist you during that meeting. However, I could review your presentation slides in advance.”
If you want to know more ways to say no, read the rest of Evomend’s article here.