Saying No Gracefully

November 23rd, 2009


My colleague, Isadora Alman, has a very good article in her online library called “Saying No Gracefully.” This seems like a good reminder for us all, especially around the holidays. You may recognize Isadora’s name from her “Ask Isadora” columns on sex and relationships.

Why is it so hard to say no? Sometimes we’ve never learned how, or we forget, or we’re with new people in new relationships. In the article, she offers 9 guidelines for saying no with grace. A few of my favorites include using “I” language, such as, “I enjoy your holiday parties, but I can’t make it this year,” and saying no clearly and firmly, such as, “I’m flattered, but no thank you.”

She also talks about allowing the asker to retain his or her dignity. She advises that we acknowledge the other person took a risk, saying something nice about them or the encounter, while maintaining our stance. For example, “I can’t make plans for next week right now, but I’ve enjoyed spending this time with you. Thanks for asking.”

The full copy of Isadora’s article is available in her online library — it’s the fourth one down from the top.

Send a message with your comments and questions.