The importance of ‘NO thanks’ - 5 ways to politely exit stage left…..

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Okay, so picture this….

You are a natural, empathetic soul. People constantly come to you because you are reliable, knowledgeable, and always happy to lend a hand, no questions asked. If someone is struggling, you are first in line to offer support, a helping hand and ear/shoulder to lean on. Sound familiar?

If you have ever experienced this before, you have probably come across another situation where you are now suddenly the ‘go-to’ person for just about everything, including other people’s workload, duties or responsibilities. Why does this happen you ask? – Because deep down, in your wonderful empathetic and caring persona, you haven’t said ‘No thanks’ when they have asked you to pitch in on their responsibility.

At some point, it’s important for us to step back and confidently say ‘No thanks’ to anything that doesn’t support, develop, grow or project us into becoming the person we want to be. Society has imbedded in each of us, that saying ‘No thanks’ is somehow a selfish and uncaring act but guess what? Sometimes it is a necessary step for us to grow and protect our own mental health.

Here are the top 5 tips from our in-house expert Bri on how to say ‘No thanks’ confidently and respectfully:

1. Kill them with kindness - Often we are scared to come across as “rude” and “ungrateful” when declining an offer, so keep being kind and polite in the forefront of your mind (“This sounds like a great opportunity, but I have to pass. Thank you for considering me! or “I apologise, but I don't have enough time on my plate to offer you quality help”

2. Being vague can be effective in not allowing for an opening. “Thank you for asking, but that isn’t going to work out for me.” In some cases, it’s best not to elaborate.

3. Offer an alternative. “Let me tell you what I can do…” a statement like this provides an alternative with the ball being in your court, limiting your commitment to what you would be comfortable with. Alternatively, offer a Plan B option “I’m really sorry I can’t help you, but I would love to recommend someone else”

4. Leaving the door cracked (not a “no”, just a “not now”). Sometimes you have to say no, so you can say yes at the right time. Occasionally we want to keep the door open when saying no and simple phrases like "Sadly I'm unavailable right now" or "Unfortunately I don't have the capacity at the moment" indicate that you're open for a similar opportunity in the future, when it better aligns with your time and career goals.

5. Be honest by insinuating you're “maxed out”. That you’ve reached your limit and as such, cannot do what is being requested (and it’s not personal). This can be explained through statements like “I'm not taking anything else on right now”, “I wish there were two of me” or “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”

Whatever the situation you find yourself in, remember that sometimes, it’s important to say “No thanks” to something that isn’t right for us, so that we can protect our own health and wellbeing and be the best version of ourselves that we can be!

Written by Emma and Bri

Emma is an accredited Mental Health First

Aid Instructor who is our secretary overseeing operations

Brianna is our curriculum content queen with a background in psychology helping shape content at GRLKND