I recently had a frustrating time with the manager of a big international company in Negros. I’d approached the firm regarding a possible sponsorship of a civic club activity. The manager seemed very keen, but after I put together a proposal and called up for further discussions he suddenly started to give me a PBO (polite brush off).
First, he said had a family crisis, then he had flu. After a while I thought this man is no longer interested, but why doesn’t he just say ‘no’ instead of jerking me around.
In the end I gave up. I told a friend about the experience. “That,” he said, “is not unusual here as people find it difficult to say no.” Okay, I’ll know next time.
Many people who have difficulty saying no can end up either trying to wriggle out of something – like the company manager – or actually accepting to do something they don’t want to do.
Many find it to hard to say no for a variety of reasons. They may not wish to offend. Or they may be kind hearted. Perhaps they may think it’s rude to say no. And some may fear they’ll be disliked by friends or neighbors if they say no.
But it’s really not that hard to say no.
In the case of the manager, had he been more professional, he could easily have said “I’ve given the idea more thought and I really don’t think on reflection it would fit in with our marketing objectives, but thanks anyway for giving us the opportunity to consider it.” I would have been happy with that and on my way.
If you’ve ever found yourself saying ‘yes’ when you’d prefer to say ‘no’ here are few tips on how to decline without offending friends, colleagues or neighbors.
“I’m sorry. I can’t do this right now.” This lets the person know your plate is full at the moment. If necessary, explain just what you have on your plate.
“I’m sorry, but now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. Perhaps we can discuss this again later.” You may have to discuss the issue again in the future, but at least the person asking for assistance doesn’t feel rejected and it let’s you off the hook.
“Let me think about it and get back to you.” This gives you time look at your schedule, as well as your feelings about saying ‘yes’ to another commitment.
“I can’t do this, but I can do …” – if you are asked to do something you’d like to do, but don’t have the time you can always suggest a lesser commitment that you can make. This way you’ll still be partially involved, but on your own terms.
When saying no, be firm and polite. You don’t have to be overly apologetic. Most reasonable people will accept your answer, but if someone keeps pressuring you, they’re being rude.
As for someone trying to sell you something, if the salesman doesn’t accept ‘no’, then walk away, close the door or put the phone down. If you don’t, you may find yourself signing on the dotted line for something you don’t want or can’t afford.