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How to say "no" with grace

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

I recently received a question from a co-worker who has a "yes" problem.

Can you bake 4 dozen cupcakes for a fundraiser tomorrow? Can I borrow your truck? Can you babysit my kids tonight? Can you come to the party? If you find yourself saying “yes” to questions like these and then regretting your answer, you are not alone. Declining an invite or request might feel rude or aggressive, however, it can be the most considerate thing you can do. Here's how to put "no" back in your vocabulary.

It's common to struggle with saying "no" to requests and invitations from others, but it's important to prioritize your own time and energy. To help you navigate these situations, try using the acronym CARE:

C - Consider taking time to respond instead of giving an instant answer. Think about the request, your options, and other obligations before making a decision.

A - Appreciate the invitation or request before politely declining. For example, "I appreciate you thinking of me, but I don't think I can help."

R - Politely reject the request. If you choose to give a reason for declining, make sure it is honest and avoids excuses.

E - Now it's time to empathize. Listen to the other person's response. Acknowledge their needs and express sympathy for their situation.

Breaking the habit of people-pleasing can be challenging, but it allows you to be more authentic and participate fully in the things that matter most to you. People will ultimately respect your honesty and willingness to prioritize your own needs.


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