Saying “No” with Tact

Have you ever found yourself working on a project only to have your manager or co-worker ask to dump even more work on your plate? Have you found yourself wanting to say “no” but unsure how to say it without offending the other person? Here is a great, simple, tactfu, and diplomatic way to say “no” without actually saying that two-letter word. This easy script follows the acronym U.S.A.

Understanding Statement - I understand this project is important to you. Situational Statement - Right now I am working on {current project} which requires my full attention in order to have it completed by {deadline}. Alternative Action - I’ll have free time Friday afternoon if you want to come by then.

Notice you don’t actually say the word no. You will also avoid saying other restrictive words such as can’t or won’t, and pivot words such as but. It also avoids apologizing for not being able to help right away. When you apologize, you open yourself up to possibly bending on your position, and accepting the project anyway.

This script can be used for anyone, even your manager. Your situational statement lets them know your current project. Sometimes you may find yourself working on a project that is no longer relevant, but it was never communicated to you. Using this script will open that communication. 

Posted 18 weeks ago