How to Say “No” Without Saying “No”

by A Guest Author

When it's all said and done, you can't do everything. Students are bombarded with schoolwork, jobs, hobbies and a social life, and it's not always possible to do everything in each of those areas.

At some point in your college career, you've probably reached the point where something had to go. You were overwhelmed and it just wasn't humanly possible to get it all done. If you're like me, you might have a hard time saying "no." Here are a few ways you can tell someone "no" without actually having to say "no."

"Let Me Get Back to You"

When someone asks a favor and you aren't sure if you can help out, there's nothing wrong with replying with "Let me get back to you." This gives you some time to decide if you really can help, and if you know you can't it gives you some time to find a way to let your friend down gently.

"I Wish I Could Help, But My Friend Can"

The classic pass the buck can actually be helpful. Maybe you don't have the time, knowledge, or resources needed to help someone, but a friend does. This is the perfect way to step aside, while still helping in sense. This works well with classmates. For example, maybe your friend needs help with her calculus homework. You aren't a math genius, but the person in your history class is. Helping people find someone who can help is still helping.

"This Isn't a Good Time for Me"

Instead of a flat out "no," you can always tell someone that the timing isn't right. Maybe you are having a busy few weeks at work, or you have a final coming up. Online classes can be very time consuming, so let your friend know that you are working on a deadline for your degree program. Telling someone that you have lots going on is a polite way to say "no."

"Can We Reschedule?"

Sometimes you want to help someone out, but you can't always just drop everything to do it. This isn't a flat out "no," but it gives your friend the option of rescheduling the favor or asking someone else. This may seem like a passive way to communicate, but if used the right way, it is more considerate than passive.

"I Wish I Could Help, But"

This is probably the most straightforward way to say "no." With this tactic you are telling your friend that that you really do wish you could be more helpful, but you have something holding you back. This lets you say no without feeling like you are shutting someone down.

Saying no can be intimidating. It's hard to let someone down, especially when it feels like they are counting on you. Next time you feel cornered, try one of these simple ways to say "no," and you'll find the situation must easier to deal with.

About the Author

Jill Hardy writes for, a website that helps student explore colleges and degree programs that can help them start a new career.

This post was written by A Guest Author

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