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How to say no.

Templates to help you say no in any situation.
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How to say no to:
customers
dating
salespeople
phone chats
recruiters
social events
interviews
work
investors
pushy people
meetings
How to say no to a project at work.
work

Hello [Name],

Thanks for thinking of me for [project]. However, I’m going to have to turn this down.

I want to ensure I continue to do my best with my existing workload and my plate’s a little too full for me to be able to take this on right now.

Sorry I can’t be of more help!

Best,
[Your Name]

How to say no to a meeting.
meetings

Hey {{ first_name }},

Just want to be upfront.

I don’t do non-transactional meetings. I don’t do meetings without a strict agenda. I don’t do meetings unless we absolutely have to.

Naval

How to say no on principle.
meetings
phone chats

John, thanks so much for reaching out and apologies for my delayed response.

I have been trying to do too much of late, which makes it hard to keep up with correspondence. I also have to admit I am not good at saying no, because I enjoy meeting people and discussing new ideas. Unfortunately, the truth is that I am maxed out and need to take a step back.

Over the next few months, I will not be taking any new calls or meetings outside of my existing commitments to my business, family and myself. This will give me the energy and time I need to complete some big projects (such as finishing my second book) and be more successful in reaching my most important goals.

This is my blanket policy until I am caught up.

Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Tim Ferriss

How to say no to a written interview.
interviews

Hi Pat,

First, thank you so much for thinking of me for this opportunity! Unfortunately, my calendar is completely full right now so I'm not going to be able to do this.

I can offer my work as an alternative. You are welcome to share quotes from Atomic Habits or my articles with your audience. I know this isn't quite what you were hoping for, but I'd like to think that his work will be useful to your audience all the same.

I'm sorry I don't have better news. Thank you for understanding and we wish you continued success.

James Clear

How to say no to a phone call (keep things over email).
phone chats

Hey {{ first_name }},

Thanks so much for reaching out.

My schedule has been crazy lately, and these days, email is usually more convenient for me instead of the phone. Would you mind if we kept the discussion here?

Pat

How to say no like a badass.
pushy people

Please leave us alone.

How to say no to going to an event.
social events

Hey {{ first_name }},

Thanks so much for the invite! I really appreciate you thinking of me.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to [Event] on [date]. But thanks again for sending an invitation my way.

Hopefully we can get together another time.

Cheers,
Pat Walls

How to say no to doing free work.
work

Thank you so much for getting in touch. It is so flattering that you would want me to be part of your business/plan/project/team. Unfortunately, I need to say no to your request.

At the beginning of each year, I calculate / I have to be careful how many hours I can dedicate to free and voluntary work requests. I have already filled the slots I have available for this year / I don’t have any time available at this point. I would be happy to discuss taking this on as a paid project for you but I can’t offer the work for free.

If budget is the issue, could I suggest maybe [posting your request in this Facebook group / reading this article / diy-ing it with this free online tool]?

Let me know if there is another way I can support what you are doing.

Again, I am so grateful that you considered me for this and I hope there is a way we can work together in the future.

Best,
Emmy

How to say no to a VC.
investors

Hey {{ first_name }},

Thanks for the meeting.

We're pushing really hard right now to move forward on [INSERT PROJECT], but let's definitely reconnect in the future.

Pat Walls
Founder @ Pigeon

How to say no to a meeting.
meetings
work

Hi {{ first_name }},

Thanks for sending that meeting invite.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to attend because of prior scheduling—but please keep me updated with action items I may be able to help with.

You can feel free to send those notes over after the meeting, though I won’t be available right away.

Best,
Pat Walls

How to say no because you need to create.
meetings
phone chats

If you're trying to reach out to say hello or say something nice you should @ me on Twitter, I try to respond to as many posts as possible.

If you have a question about making videos or want to share something you made with me or anything like that I would also direct you to Twitter. I know that's not as satisfying as sending a direct email but my inbox is a big fat mess and when I made it public there were too many messages to respond so they just went unread - that sucks for everyone.

If you are in NYC and want to connect personally or have a business idea you want to talk to me about or want a couple minutes of my time on the phone or in person or if you want to connect for a quick selfie or anything that involves a commitment of time, any amount of time, I very very gently have to say no.

Saying no is hard. There are so many extraordinary circumstances that should warrant me saying yes, but I can't. It's a hard, inflexible no.

Family comes first, work second and whatever is left over I like to use for me which is usually going to the gym or running. There is no time left for yes. Even if that means missing opportunities.

Paul Graham really nails why saying yes for a quick coffee can be so destructive to the creative process - give this a read to understand the maker's schedule.

My dear friend Ryan Holiday penned this pointed essay to everyone who asks for just a little of your time. It's brilliant, I wish I'd written it.

I am sorry for no, but it's not without reason.

How to say no to a customer feature request.
customers

Hey there,

Thanks so much for emailing - that's a great question. I could definitely see how you would want to have [INSERT FEATURE].

Right now, we don't have anything like that in place, so it is just manual. That being said, we've heard that request quite a bit so maybe we will do so in the future. I'll speak with our engineering team about this, and they'll reach out if they have any other questions.

In the meantime, please let me know if there's anything else that we can help with and have a great rest of your day!

Pat Walls
Founder @ Pigeon for Gmail

How to say no to "picking your brain"
meetings
phone chats

Dear {{ first_name }},

Thanks for your interest in meeting with me about [topic]. I get this request a lot. As a result, I have three options available. The first one is free:

1. My Blog and Podcast. I have numerous articles and podcast episodes on [topic] available on my site. You can find them all by using the Search feature at the top of each page.

2. Coaching. Rather than one-on-one coaching, I offer mentorship to growing business leaders through our BusinessAccelerator. There you can get personal access during the live events, plus peer mentoring from other high achievers, and much more.

3. Live Events. The best current expression of my thoughts on this subject is delivered in The Focused Leader, a 1-day intensive that will give you hours of direct access to my live teaching.

Thanks again for your interest. Let me know if I can provide anything further.

Kind regards,
Michael

How to say no before you need to say no.
meetings
phone chats

Before emailing...

Is your question a Frequently Asked Question?

Unfortunately I now get so much mail that I can't promise to respond to every one. I know this seems obnoxious, but I notice I have mails in my inbox that are two years old. I'm probably never going to respond to them, and I may as well admit it.

I respond faster to emails that are short. Two-liners I often reply to immediately. Long emails I leave in my inbox to deal with later, and never do.

My email address is my first and last initial at Y Combinator.

How to say no to a phone call (keep things over email/DM).
phone chats

Hey {{ first_name }},

What do you want to talk about?

Paul

--

When people want to meet or talk on the phone, a good trick is to start the conversation immediately, in the medium they used to ask you.

(Now they've already asked it.)

How to say no to coffee.
social events

Hi {{ first_name }},

Thanks for reaching out!

As much as I’d love to network over some caffeine, my schedule’s currently packed a little too tightly for me to make room for these types of casual chats.

If you had some specific questions you were hoping to pick my brain about, feel free to pass those along via email and I’ll do my best to answer them when I have some downtime.

Hopefully we can connect another time, {{ first_name }}!

Pat Walls

How to say no to a recruiter.
recruiters
interviews

Hey {{ first_name }},

Thanks for getting in touch!

I appreciate you reaching out about [POSITION]. But, I’m not currently looking to explore other opportunities.

Wishing you the best in finding the right candidate!

Best,
Pat Walls

How to say no to an introduction.
work

Hey {{ first_name }},

Great to hear from you! I hope things are going well with you.

While I do know [THAT PERSON], I don’t feel comfortable sharing their contact information. I hope you understand.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s any other way I can help, {{ first_name }}.

Have a great day!

Pat Walls

How to say no to donating money.
work

Hi {{ first_name }},

That’s a great cause to get behind, thanks for thinking of me!

This year, my focus is on [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY], so I’m saving all my extra change for that.

I’m rooting for [YOU/YOUR CHILD]—best of luck!

Pat

How to say no to hiring your sister-in-law's uncle.
work

Dear [Name]:

As CEO, I do not get directly involved in the hiring process except in very rare instances, such as filling a key opening on our Executive Leadership Team or on my own staff.

Nevertheless, I can tell you how to get started. First, visit our careers page here.

This page contains a list of all job openings currently available at Michael Hyatt & Company. Click on the job that interests you and then read the full job description. If you are still interested in the job, follow the steps outlined there to submit your application.

Once you have done so, someone in our Human Resources Department will review your application and take the appropriate action. If you can’t find a position that interests you, you might want to check back later, as these job postings are updated regularly.

Best on your job search, whether that leads you here or elsewhere. Again, thank you for honoring us with your interest in joining our company.

Kind regards,
Michael

How to say no to bringing back a removed feature.
customers

Hi {{ first_name }},

The reason we removed X from our offering was that it was slowing down the app loading time for most of our customers, even for those who never used X. So we are not likely to bring it back anytime soon.

I understand how frustrating it must be to lose a feature that you relied on. So if this is a deal-breaker for you, I am happy to help you move to a different tool that has X.

Regards,
Pat Walls

How to say no to a pushy salesperson.
salespeople

Hey {{ first_name }},

Thank you for all the help you’ve given up to this point!

We’ve decided to go in another direction, but will keep [COMPANY] in mind for future partnerships that could work out better.

Much appreciated,
Pat Walls

How to say no because deep work.
work
meetings

Here's the thing.

As humans, we're wired to construct our worldviews based on what we pay attention to. We're the calculus of that. All of my time is devoted to deep work, and I'm a terrible correspondent for that reason.

What I've learnt from my working years thus far is that productivity is non-linear. And therefore, I'd like to make clear that my time and attention is spoken for.

If you wish to get in touch still, you can on Twitter or LinkedIn (please send a note here before sending a request), but with discretion. Unless it's a clear agenda, you will not be getting any replies.

Many thanks.

How to say no to a guest post.
work

Dear {{ first_name }},

Thanks so much for thinking of me as a potential guest blogger. I am honored.

Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time. It is all I can do to keep up with my own blog! As a result, I’m afraid I will have to decline your kind invitation.

Again, thanks for thinking of me.

Kind regards,
Michael

How to say no to a customer who is asking you to do their job.
customers

Hi {{ first_name }},

I prepared a document for you that will walk you through the steps to do X. You can get this done in no time 🙂

However, if you do face any difficulties, please let me know. We can get on a call and I can guide you step by step.

Regards,
Pat Walls

How to say no to a customer asking for a discount.
customers

Hi {{ first_name }},

It’s awesome that you have decided to buy our product! We cannot wait to have you on board. I spoke to our implementation expert about your use case and he is ready to help you get started right away.

As for your discount request, I’m sorry to say that we don’t offer discounts. We believe that our service offers more value for your money and it will be unfair to our other customers if we make an exception.

Let me know if I can send you the contract.

Thanks,
Pat Walls

How to say no to an appearance on a brand new podcast.
meetings
phone chats

Hey!

I would love to jump on - I just have a rule for new podcasts that I won't join until 20 episodes recorded :)

So once you reach 20, I'm in! Hope you understand.

Good luck with the podcast!

Pat

How to say no after you already said yes.
work

Hi {{ first_name }},

I know that I offered to take on this project 2 months ago but things have changed since then and I feel I may not have the time to give your project my 100%. My sincere apologies for this.

I don't want to leave you hanging, so I can recommend a few people who have the skills to handle your project.

I can also offer [INSERT CONSOLATION].

If you have questions or concerns, I'm free and willing to listen.

Pat

How to say no to a date.
dating
social events

Hey {{ first_name }}!

I hope you had a great weekend.

I had a nice time the other night and I think you’re a really great person, but I just don’t think we’re a good match.

Good luck out there, I hope you find what you’re looking for.

How to say no to a friend asking for business help.
meetings

Hi {{ first_name }},

I love hearing how you are getting on with [insert topic of request here], thank you so much for taking the time to update me, especially as I know how busy you are right now.

I am going to have to say no to [insert topic of request here] on this occasion because I don’t have any capacity for free work at the moment / I’m not the right person to help you with this / I love our friendship too much to mix it up with business.

I am so proud to see you pushing the limits of [insert topic of request here] and striving even harder to do something that means so much to you. I feel like we haven’t seen each other properly for ages.

Let’s get together soon so that we can not talk about work together.

Best,
Emmy McCarthy

How to say no to someone that won't take no for an answer.
salespeople

Hey {{ first_name }},

I love your persistence! The answer is still no. I’m simply not able to fit your request into my schedule right now. Believe me, I am not the only way that you will make this project work / achieve your goal but my role is going to be the one who is cheering you on from the sidelines.

I hope the resources/references in our previous email exchange were helpful.

Now go smash those goals, you’ve got this!

Best,
Emmy

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