How to Say No Without Hurting Someone’s Feelings

Mar 22, 2019How To, Stories

I am so excited for this video because I love this topic!

So how to say no without hurting someone's feelings?

It's something that I know a lot people struggle with, including me. And I'm sure you have been in a situation where you're like, “I really should say no, but I don't know how to get out of this situation.”


I've definitely been there and I would bet you some serious cash that you have been as well. So I want to give you a framework that I learned…

Actually, this came up just the other day and so I went to Google to find some answers and I saw this awesome framework from the writer over at and her name is Marilee, I think.

And this framework really hit home with me because I have seen that it's just useful and it works.

This five part framework really is right on. And I think it's so graceful in how to say no without hurting someone's feelings. So I'm gonna jump right in….

The 5-Part Framework of Saying ‘No'

#1 – You start by complimenting the person.

You start off with something positive. That's always a good way to counteract that. That way you're sort of like lowering their defenses, right?

‘You're so kind to think of me' is a great way to do that or “Oh, it's so nice of you to think of me”.

#2 – Give your answer with a reason.

So… “You're so kind of think of me, but I've already committed to making sure that I watch my kids or making sure that I have to wash my dog or wash my hair.” But basically saying, “I've already committed to doing something else.”

#3 – Then you say, thank you.

#4 – And then you encourage the person and compliment them.

So you would say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. I know you're going to put together a great team.” or “I know you're going to do great at this because you do great at all these things.”

So basically you just want to say thank you and encourage them to continue on, but with.” is key. You're going to want to do the fifth part of this framework, which is changed the subject or excuse yourself. So one of the easiest ways to change the subject is… “by the way, have you blah, blah, blah.”

‘By the way…' those three little words can change the subject anytime you need.

So that's the five part framework.

And, I just want to give you a couple of examples.

Example #1- “Hey, can you help with the kid's field trip?”

And you can just say,

“You're so kind to think of me. I really appreciate it. My husband and I agreed that we are only committing to one activity this year so we can really focus on our marriage. But thank you for asking. I know you're going to put together a great support team because you're really good at this. By the way, have you heard that they're adding apples to the new lunch program?”

So you see how I did the five piece framework right there, right?

I compliment-‘ Thanks for thinking of me‘. I gave my answer.-‘ My husband and I are committed to working on our marriage this year. Thank you so much for thinking of me again'. And then,' I knew you were going to put together a great team'. And then ‘by the way, did you hear about the school lunch program?'

Now I don't mean that, it's just a made up scenario because I don't know if they're adding apples to the school lunch program, but there we go.

Example #2 – this one is always fun. It's like when a coworker wants you to do something and you're like, nobody's got time for that.

So what you can say is like, “You're so kind to think of me as somebody that would be good to help you, but I'm so sorry right now I'm not able to because my current projects need my full attention now.”

By the way, you don't have to apologize.

That is something you don't have to do. Sometimes people just feel really comfortable doing it. And for me it's a habit I'm trying to break and I just said it right then and I heard myself and I was like, “I should not be apologizing.”

So as part of this, you do not have to apologize for saying no. But if you're a good girl from the south, like I am, a really hard habit to break.

So you know, “You're kind of think of me, I'm not able to help right now because of my current deadlines and workload but thank you. I know you're going to get everything done and it's going to be brilliant because you were so good at that project. That was similar last year. By the way, if you want to go grab lunch next week.”

See how that five part framework built in right there?

Example #3- How to give an example for when someone wants free advice.

And this is the one that happens to me all the time, but what you could say is like, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much for remembering that I love what I do. I really appreciate it. I don't like to give advice outside of the office because I'm like in home mode and I don't want to misspeak. So I'm happy to meet with you during work hours. Here's my card. It's got my website and my hours and my fees and everything listed on there. You can contact me through there and we can get something set up. Thank you so much.

And then you can be done.

Another way, you say, “By the way, how's your work going?” Things like that.

Or you know, “By the way, how's your kid doing in soccer?

Whatever it is.

So that's one way to get people to realize that they need to pay you for your expertise and your time. These are the things that really helped me.

Let's just go through this framework again as a recap.

  1. The first step is to start with a compliment that fits the situation.
  2. Second is that you're going to give your answer with a reason.
  3. The third is you're going to thank them.
  4.  The fourth is that you're going to encourage the person to meet their goals because they're asking you for a reason. So you want to encourage them.
  5. And the fifth is to change the subject or excuse yourself by. “By the way”, is how you change the subject. But you can also always excuse yourself to go to the restroom. That is one of my favorite ways to leave a conversation. And being a pregnant woman right now, that's super easy to do, but I'm not always pregnant. So sometimes I just gotta potty. Anyway, that works though 100% of the time.

So there, I just wanted to equip you with this framework.

Now what's going to happen is you're going to try this and hopefully it works for you. And what's probably gonna happen is that somewhere along the way somebody is going to try to pressure you. They're going to be like, “Oh, you really can do this.” Like, “Oh, you can have time for this.” Or they're going to give you some other excuse.

And what I've done is I've put together this solution or framework for when that happens.

So if somebody is pressuring you to say yes when you want to say no, and if you want to know about that, reach out to me on messenger or private message me and send me a note and I'll get that over to you because I really want you to be able to say no with feeling comfortable about yourself without hurting some other's feelings.

So if you're ready to go to the next step and learn how to handle the pressure, if somebody applies it after you've used this framework, reach out to me and I will get those over to you. All right? Have a great day.