How to say no nicely

For people in the customer service industry, saying no can be a daily occurrence. So, to be able to say it and not offend is a great skill to learn and can be easier than you think.

Saying no can be tough sometimes. I think it’s our natural desire to want to help. For some of us, this can be a real source of stress when we want to say yes but due to policy, circumstance, availability or a host of other reasons, the answer is just a flat, ‘NO’.

Making it happen

So, how do we make this easier to say and how do we make it easier for others to accept?

Well, here’s what you can do. Firstly, saying no doesn’t mean you have to be nasty or unhelpful. It isn’t an aggressive stance. Sometimes, it’s just not practical or is plain unreasonable for someone to expect a ‘YES’.

A simple 4 step process you can use is:

1. Acknowledge
2. Decline
3. Give Reasons
4. Offer Alternatives

 

As an example:

 

One morning, Harry asks you if you could show him how to update all the figures on the quarterly expense spreadsheet. He says that he’s only been shown once and it was ages ago. His manager needs the printout for a 3 o’clock meeting

 

Your response could be:

 

“I can understand you need a refresher on how to update that spreadsheet if you’ve only been shown once. (acknowledge) I'm not able to assist you right now (decline) I’m already working through my lunch hour in order to complete a proposal for a client presentation this afternoon (give reasons). Have you tried looking in the training manual? It’s very well laid out and I think you’d be able to follow it easily (alternatives).”

 

 

The two important steps not to miss out are the ‘Acknowledge’, which can sometimes be an ‘Apology’ and the ‘Offer Alternatives’ step which gives the other person some options.
Why not take a few minutes and work out a 4 step response for a couple of the most common reasons you have to say no either to a colleague or a customer and try it out.

 

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