99 Effective Ways to Say No

posted by Andrea | 11/6/2019

99 effective ways to say no

When I thought up the idea for a post about different ways to say “No”, I originally entitled it, 21 Effective Ways to Say “No”, then 49 Effective Ways to Say “No”, which eventually morphed into 72 Effective Ways to Say “No”.

As the days went on, I continued to think up more and more and more ways to say “No” — I even woke up in the middle of the night a few times with additional ideas. 

I finally “capped” myself at 99 Effective Ways to Say “No” — in part because I didn’t want this post to be so ridiculously long. But also because I don’t think anyone could ever need more than 99 ways to say “No” (at least I hope not!)

If you struggle to say “No”, PLEASE bookmark this post and refer back to it often! 

99 effective ways to say no

Without further ado…

Here are 99 Effective Ways to Say “No”! 

  1. No.
  2. Nope.
  3. Nah.
  4. Heck No!
  5. No Way, José
  6. Not now.
  7. No, I’m sorry. 
  8. I don’t think so. 
  9. Not this time
  10. No thank you.
  11. Unfortunately not.
  12. No, for now. 
  13. Not possible… sorry.
  14. No can do.
  15. No, thanks for understanding.
  16. Shucks… I won’t be able to fit it into my schedule.
  17. If only I could say yes… 
  18. I’d love to… but I can’t.
  19. Maybe another time.
  20. Thanks, but no thanks.
  21. It’s so nice of you to think of me, but I have to pass.
  22. That [time, date, location] doesn’t work for me.
  23. Ask me again in a [year, month, week].
  24. I already have another commitment at that time. 
  25. I won’t be able to make that work.
  26. It doesn’t work for me, but I know a couple of people who might be interested. 
  27. I’m not taking on any other tasks right now.
  28. That’s not something I feel comfortable with.
  29. I just have too much on my plate right now. I can’t add anything else. 
  30. Give me some time to think about it (and then email them a “no”).
  31. I’m honored! I wish I could make that work, but I can’t. 
  32. Sadly, I have prior engagements. 
  33. My apologies; I won’t be able to make it.
  34. Not this time, but please keep me in mind for the future.
  35. Sorry, that’s not my “thing”. 
  36. I’d rather not — but thanks for asking. 
  37. I just don’t think I’m the person you’re looking for. 
  38. I wish I had a clone — then I’d say yes!
  39. So sorry, it’s almost impossible for me to get away in the [evenings, mornings, afternoons, weekends].
  40. That sounds amazing, I wish I didn’t have to say no. 
  41. I’ve committed to not taking on anything extra.
  42. Sorry, my [family, neighbor, friend, coworker, pet] needs me. 
  43. I won’t be able to help this time. 
  44. I’m in a season of “Nos” right now. 
  45. I’m bummed that I need to pass up this opportunity. 
  46. I’m trying to cut back so I can’t let myself add anything extra. 
  47. I have to take a rain check this time. 
  48. No, sorry… I’m taking a little time off right now. 
  49. Sorry, I’m totally slammed. 
  50. Maybe in another life, I’d have time for this. 
  51. It’s so [kind, thoughtful, considerate] of you to think of me, but I just can’t. 
  52. I need to bow out of this for now.
  53. I just can’t commit at the moment. 
  54. I’m honestly not sure I’m the best person for this opportunity. 
  55. I just realized it’s Tuesday (or whatever day you choose). Tuesdays are bad for me!
  56. I’ve already committed to ______ and I don’t want to spread myself too thin.
  57. Sorry, I just can’t! 
  58. Man, I wish I didn’t have to say no this time!
  59. Thanks for thinking of me… please reach out again.
  60. No… again… I’m so sorry!
  61. I’m already booked.
  62. Absolutely not.
  63. I’m unavailable at that time. 
  64. Sounds like a blast — can’t wait to [come, be, participate, help] next time!
  65. I wouldn’t be able to do it justice, so I’d better pass. 
  66. I can’t, but I hope you have so much fun!
  67. My apologies, but no. 
  68. I think not.
  69. I already have something else going on. 
  70. My heart says “yes” but my brain says “no”.
  71. I know I’ll regret it if I don’t say no this time.
  72. I can’t believe I’m passing this up… but it’s just not for me.
  73. Sorry, I’m busy.
  74. I’m going to pass this time around… but maybe next time! 
  75. Perhaps next [month, year, season, time] when my schedule is freed up a bit.
  76. Out of respect for [myself, my family, my friends, my coworkers], I must say no.
  77. No thank you… but it sounds wonderful. 
  78. I know you’ll have a great time without me. 
  79. It’s going to be a “No” from me this time around.
  80. I’ve enjoyed this in the past, but I’m trying something new this year.
  81. It’s just not for me, my friend. Thanks for understanding.
  82. I really want to say yes… but I can’t. 
  83. I simply don’t have the time, energy, or resources to give right now. 
  84. Sounds tempting! I wish I could make it work.
  85. No thanks. I’m sure you’ll find someone else. 
  86. If only there were more hours in the day — then I could say yes.
  87. I’m not at a point where I can say “yes” to this right now, so my answer is “no”.
  88. Not happening. 
  89. It’s not a great idea for me at this point. 
  90. I’m out of town, so it just won’t work. 
  91. I’m otherwise engaged… so sorry. 
  92. Not today.
  93. I’m bummed that we can’t figure out a way to make this happen right now.
  94. I’m in a crazy season of life right now and I’m not taking anything else on. 
  95. I fear the demands of this would be too much for me right now. 
  96. Sorry, my [boss, spouse, child, friend, advisor, coach, therapist] won’t agree to this. 
  97. Not likely. 
  98. Certainly not. 
  99. I can’t. But here’s what I can do…

I’m fairly confident I’ve used every single one of these over the course of my life — and believe it or not, they all work! 

As I mentioned before, I am a huge advocate for using your gifts, helping when you can, participating when it works for you, and giving your time and energy on a regular basis. 

HOWEVER, for your own health and sanity, and for the happiness of your own family, there are times when you simply MUST SAY “NO”. 

The more you practice saying “No”, the easier it will become and the less guilty you’ll feel. 

Try out a few of these options… and enjoy a little more breathing room in your schedule!

A Few More Resources to Help You Stand Your Ground:

A Post for Anyone Who Struggles to Say “No”

Say “No” Without Explanation

Saying “No” Shows Respect

One More Reason to Say “No”

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Saying “Yes”

What are your favorite effective ways to say “No”?

99 effective ways to say no

Filed under: LifeFamilySchedulesDaily LifeTime Management

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6 comments

  1. Lauren

    11/06/2019

    What do you do if you’ve already said yes to something but it was a huge mistake?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Great question!
    If it were me, I wouldn’t try to “beat around the bush” at all… I’d just apologize, maybe give a short “excuse” as to why it doesn’t work anymore, and then move on. It’s not ideal, I’m sure you’ll end up feeling a little bit like a jerk, but that’s probably still better than spending more time and energy (and all that stress) suffering through whatever it is that you originally said yes to.

    [Reply]

  2. JJ

    11/06/2019

    This is fantastic! I recently was asked to do something(Bible club)where the lady said, “Your older children can participate but your youngest isn’t old enough. You’d need a babysitter for him.” I actually used some of your ideas listed about and said, “I’d love to in a few years when all of my children can participate and when they are more emotionally independent(I have one super clingy child who’s very introverted.).” She actually thanked me for saying, “No!” Because one person’s, “No!” is an opportunity for someone else who can and would be blessed and a be a blessing to say, “Yes!” I also told her this is a season of life where I am more needed by my children and they are my first ministry. She totally understood. It is so freeing to say, “No!” when it’s meant to be a, “No!” We have a program during church for kids, and my husband and I have been able to serve here(once a month), which has been a blessing. Finding the best yes really does make a difference!!! Love this post!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing!
    And yes, I totally agree. A while back, I share a post about how saying “no” actually shows a lot of respect (for yourself and the others involved). I think that’s what you did here too!

    [Reply]

  3. Margaret

    11/06/2019

    Hilarious. And I hope the scheduler at work doesn’t read your blog, because I rotate through a lot of these when she’s trying to coerce overtime.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — it will be our little secret 🙂

    [Reply]