Rejecting someone may be one of the toughest tasks, especially for a leader or a manager, because overusing the word ‘no’ may earn them a label of ‘insensitive’ or ‘overly demanding’. As a CEO and , from time to time, I have to refuse my team and rarely partners or clients. And every time, I try to be as sensitive and understanding as possible. Managing Partner Why do we have to say ‘no,’ and how do we master the art of it? When do we need to say ‘no’? — one of the most obvious reasons to say ‘no’ to a task or a meeting is when there is simply no time for it. If a calendar is overloaded, there is no point in trying to squeeze more things into it. When we are overloaded , a helicopter view is crucial for understanding which tasks need to be completed and which tasks would be a waste of time. In my mind, saying ‘no’ is perfectly fine when something has no point and/or alignment with a general project goal. When there is no alignment — burnout can creep up on professionals, and once it does, it is tough to shake it off. When feeling burnt out, it is time to start saying ‘no’ and take some time off. That is what we at SupportYourApp encourage and do. When we feel the burnout coming How to say ‘no’? Politeness is the key. There is a massive difference between ‘no’ and ‘thank you, but I have to say ‘no.’ This gap is created by a little but ever-so-crucial thing called politeness. There is no point in turning a rejection into a stone that whacks a team on the head or, even worse, feels like a slap across the face. It is important to remember the difference between politeness and sugarcoating. Use positive language, but be honest (more on that in the next point), and do not beat around the bush. Precision and iron-clad decisions should be understandable for everyone. Phrases to use: Thank you, but I have to decline. Thank you for sharing your ideas, but I have to refuse. I am grateful you shared your vision, but this will not work. An honest and genuine attitude is a must. A business can operate properly only when the people running it are honest and open with each other. This is the lesson I learned at the beginning of my career. I still abide by it and teach my team to do so, too. Along with Openness, Honesty is among SupportYourApp’s values. When saying ‘no’ to a team member, honesty is a must. A leader should be prepared to answer such questions as ‘Why not?’ and ‘How can I get you to say yes?’. Being completely genuine and explaining their view is a good way for a manager to let a team member down gently. Phrases to use: This does not align with our company’s vision. I do not think this will work. This will not be beneficial to us right now. There should be an alternative solution. Now, we raise the bar of difficulty. Shutting down someone’s ideas and suggestions can have a damning effect on a team’s motivation and willingness to offer something new. After a while, its members can even stop making any suggestions. In short, they will stop caring. Offering an alternative solution will explain why a certain idea may not work in certain situations. It will also show that a manager listens, cares, and wants to improve their team’s processes. Phrases to use: Can’t say I agree with your vision. I suggest… I think we should assume another direction. For example, we can… … would be a better solution for us right now. Reasons behind the decision should be clear. I believe every professional has come across a coworker who refused to explain their decision or provided obscure information when asked ‘Why not?’. Working with someone like this is one of the most frustrating experiences one can have. It can also lead to fast burn- and rust-out, which, in turn, can increase churn. When saying ‘no’ to their team, should provide reasons behind such a decision. This will help a team gain a deeper understanding of their manager’s vision and open the door to discussion and brainstorming. a manager Phrases to use: Due to …, this will not work right now. … prevents us from taking this route. This will not be a good solution because of… No false hopes Last but not least, a manager should ensure that once an idea is rejected, there will be no false hopes about returning to it. ‘No’ means ‘no’ today and tomorrow. Combined with all the above-mentioned approaches, even when the door to a certain idea closes, a window to another starts opening. Phrases to use: This does not suit our company’s image and goals. You should try taking a completely different approach. The solution you have now is unsuitable. This is not something we will pursue. Mastering the art of gentle rejection takes years, but, in the end, it will only create more ways for effective business communication. It is a skill that is 100% worth developing.