Here’s a (hopefully ever-expanding) list of inoffensive ways to say ‘NO’ without lying or losing your integrity. Because too many of us get caught up doing stuff we don’t want to do or even things that are detrimental to us, simply because we don’t know how to say No, we don’t want to upset others, we don’t want to seem lazy or incompetent or we don’t want to miss out. Trust me. none of these carry any weight. If you learn these inoffensive ways to say no, you might never be caught out again.

This is a complete sentence and the more people assert their No, the more widely it will be accepted as such. No explanations just No.

I think I’ll pass.
Thanks but no thanks.
Simple yet effective.

I need to rest.
Needing a rest is a perfectly acceptable reason to opt-out of something.

I’m gonna have to say No to that.
They don’t need to know why you’re going to have to say no.

I really wouldn’t enjoy/ feel comfortable doing that.
You don’t have to do anything that could potentially make you feel uncomfortable or at risk and it’s totally ok to say so.

I’ve been spreading myself too thinly lately.
We all need rest and It’s totally ok to say no even if there’s space in your schedule. Only you know how much you can handle taking on. Don’t overstretch yourself.

I can’t fit that into the budget right now
Don’t let people pressure you into spending money. even if you have it. whether you have goals or not. Your budget is just that, yours and therefore is defined by you.

I wish I could.
Is a complete answer.

Not this time
Leave it open so you will still receive future invitations.

It’s not ideal for me…

If something doesn’t fit your needs it’s ok to say so.

I probably shouldn’t.
They’ll probably think this is an opportunity to persuade you so be prepared to be assertive.

Actually I’m going to be…
You can tell them what you are doing and perhaps even invite them along if the occasion allows.

Why don’t you ask…/ have you tried??
Maybe you could help them find the help they need?

I’m going to have to get back to you on that.
Buy yourself time also acceptable. Just make sure you get back with an answer and don’t bury your head in the sand.

I’d be giving up… If I did that.
Usually, if you tell someone what you’d potentially be giving up they back out by themselves and say never mind. But don’t forget the broken record technique if they don’t get the gist.

My schedule is full.
Again, you don’t need to explain. A full schedule is a full schedule.

That doesn’t interest me, I’d prefer to…
You could offer an alternative activity if they’re suggesting something you’d rather not do if you would actually like to spend time with them.

Not now/ I can’t do that date how about…
If you want to do it but can’t do the date offer a different date.

I’d struggle to fit that in.
This speaks for itself.

I hope you find this useful. Don’t forget to use your facial expressions and body language to your advantage. Overall just be honest and let people know that it’s not personal. You don’t need to go deep into an explanation as to why either. Any rational person will respect and value your honesty and ability to enforce your boundaries. If someone is upset or offended by you being unwilling or unable to serve them. They probably don’t deserve your help anyway. Can you think of anymore inoffensive ways to say no? Let me know in the comments.

Inoffensive Ways to say ‘No’ Without Lying or Sacrificing Your Integrity


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