83 Ways to say no

Saying no is not just saying no. You probably have shoes for all kinds of occasions. Even if shoe shopping isn’t something you particularly enjoy, you’ll have shoes for wet and dry weather, for cold and summer heat, special ones for running or other sports, ones for walking and others for going out, slippers and maybe rain boots – depending on the situations in your life for which you need the right footwear.

Shoes for every occasion

The situations in which you say no or would like to learn to say no are also varied and differently – from the sugar offered in the coffee, to the movie date that doesn’t work out for you, or the favor you want to refuse, to the plans of others that you want to prevent at all costs.

So why not Have no-variants ready that work particularly well for different occasions?

We’ve discussed this in our "Being Nice vs. Say No" webinar recently told us, among other things, that especially in the beginning, when you are only slowly learning to say no, ready-made standing sentences can be really useful. In other words, sentences that you rehearse and learn "by heart", so that you don’t have to think about the wording for a long time when it comes down to it.

The best way to do this is to develop your own standing sentences, which fit the situation(s) and with which you also feel authentic. And we’d like to make it a little easier for you by showing you all the possibilities you can choose from and combine.

Here are 83 ways to say no, from short and to the point to detailed and reasoned, from super polite to flippant or hostile, from cooperative to mean and nasty. Plus 5 bonus standing sentences.

The exercise we suggest you do on this is quite simple and you will enjoy it too:

Read through the 83 no’s at your leisure, and think about the situations in which you find each appropriate. Mark the ones you like because they suit you, and read them out loud. Feel how the sentence (or word) feels to you, and say it in many different tones – you can also imagine in which situations the tone of voice is appropriate for you. Play with the phrases and inflections, using your own words, rearranging or experimentally recombining phrases until you have two or three variations that feel good to you for all possible situations.

At the end of the article you will find a PDF version of the list, so that the painting goes better, and so that you can print them out and keep them if you want to.

The 83 ways of saying no

  1. No.
  2. Mm-mmh.
  3. *shake head
  4. No, thank you.
  5. No, I don’t want that, thank you.
  6. Thanks a lot, but: No
  7. No, but thank you for asking.
  8. I (unfortunately) have to say no to that.
  9. I have to refuse (unfortunately).
  10. I have to say no (unfortunately).
  11. I have to cancel (unfortunately).
  12. I (unfortunately) can’t agree to that.
  13. I can not do that (unfortunately).
  14. I can not do that (unfortunately)
  15. I can’t agree with you (unfortunately).
  16. I (unfortunately) cannot allow that.
  17. I don’t agree with that.
  18. I cannot agree with that.
  19. I cannot agree with that.
  20. I can’t do that.
  21. I can’t allow that.
  22. I cannot allow this.
  23. I will have to forbid that.
  24. I’m afraid I’m going to have to turn you down.
  25. I must (unfortunately) refuse.
  26. I must forbid this.
  27. I must forbid that.
  28. I forbid myself.
  29. Thanks for thinking of me there, but unfortunately this does not work out (today).
  30. Thanks for your confidence, that’s very flattering – unfortunately I have to decline (because… – if you care to justify.).
  31. Thank you for your trust, I am really glad that you thought of me – unfortunately, it is not possible for me in terms of time.
  32. Not at all.
  33. Not in the least.
  34. Not as far as I know.
  35. In no way.
  36. Absolutely not.
  37. Not at all.
  38. This is out of the question.
  39. That is completely out of the question.
  40. Under any circumstances.
  41. Absolutely not.
  42. God forbid!
  43. This is completely impossible.
  44. This is completely unthinkable.
  45. You can / can’t forget that right now.
  46. Definitely not.
  47. Certainly not.
  48. You’ll never make me.
  49. Never!
  50. No way!
  51. Out of the question.
  52. Never ever.
  53. Absolutely not!
  54. Not at any price.
  55. This is not to be thought of.
  56. Not for the world.
  57. Over my dead body (be careful, could trigger murder fantasies!)
  58. When hell freezes over.
  59. Rather hell freezes over.
  60. If Australia wins the European Championship.
  61. I would rather be stuck head first in an outhouse (or any other distinctly unattractive prospect)
  62. Not for a lot of money.
  63. Not in my lifetime.
  64. Never in my life.
  65. Does not come into the bag.
  66. Forget it.
  67. Dream on!
  68. Where do you think you’re going?
  69. Nice try.
  70. Not with me.
  71. Not if I can help it.
  72. Not if I have any say in it.
  73. I will not allow that under any circumstances.
  74. That I will prevent.
  75. You can’t count on me for that.
  76. I will definitely not do this.
  77. How would I get?
  78. Without me.
  79. I regret.
  80. I can’t do that.
  81. This is no longer possible.
  82. That is unfortunately impracticable ( because…).
  83. This is (unfortunately) not possible, because … (there are no hardy palm trees / I am in Mexico etc).).

Bonus: If you have to refuse something z. B. To customers because your company doesn’t do certain things or only does them a certain way:

  • I’m sorry I can’t be more accommodating on this, but we have clear instructions to only exchange something if the invoice is presented (or any other rule you have to abide by).
  • Unfortunately I can only take the sweater back if you can show me the invoice.
  • I’m sorry, but it’s not in my discretion to make exceptions here. Would you like to talk to my supervisor(s)?
  • I can understand why you are upset/disappointed… But please understand that I have to follow my employer’s guidelines. Would you like to talk to my / my supervisor?
  • I understand your situation and I would like to help you, but I have to follow the rules I am given.

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