The art of saying “No”


Saying “No” is the biggest challenge all of us face whether at the work place or at home. If you are a career woman, the chances are you are either highly overworked at both home and office or guilt ridden for always missing that meeting or worrying at all the home chores you left behind.

How that “No” is communicated makes a world of difference. In workplace, the context and the tone and tenor is an important subtext. The following tips may come in handy in a tricky situation at workplace.

Don’t natter: When communicating on your decision, its important to stay on topic. Don’t wander away from the subject at hand nor elapse into a nervy ramble. Have the discussion (which might be lengthy) but be clear and honest about your reasons. For it to be well received, make sure you prepare in advance of that conversation, your motivations as well as the reasons as to your “No”. Avoid making that either a firm “no” or a timid “No” but just something delivered in an even tenor.

Delivery: It is also extremely important that you leave no room for doubt in the minds of the recipient as to your decision. Don’t leave the impression that you might just be convinced with the right words nor that you are a stubborn person who brooks no argument. While its important to communicate well as to the background and the context, it’s not necessary that you need to address every tiny point against that’s raised by your recipient. Be clear, be upright and more importantly be convinced yourself as to  your reasons and your decision.

Finally, while it might be extremely difficult for have such conversations with your boss or senior colleague, most people in general appreciate candor in a thoughtful conversation/discussion if communicated in the right way. Make sure though that you make these decisions after careful consideration and communicate them without burning bridges or ruining work relationships.

The key is to practice these conversations, rehearse and re-rehearse before delivery.


  1. Yes Lavanya, we all face this situation day in and day out. Many times we miss out the good opportunities and regret for not able to take the right call and say ‘no’, and we also repeat the mistake. It is because it is not an easy process as it appears to, what is there to just say no but the context and courage goes missing, and we divert in the conversation and topic get diluted. Therefore as aptly stated it is an art, learning the art comes through planning and preparation.

    By the way you have lovely blog and I will be soon going through your books, congrats for your good work and publication that needs quality effort and the short stories which I love to read.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s