How To Politely Decline An Opportunity

How to decline

At one point or another, we usually get asked to be a part of something. Sometimes, it doesn’t align with what we would necessarily want. Since I started working with Delasie, I realized I was sometimes in a position where I was asked to participate in an event that I either couldn’t be a part of, or didn’t want to(which is okay).   When you’re staring in business – or continue to grow one, on more than a few occasions,  opportunities will be presented to you. In my experience, I have found that these opportunities are one of the following, or all.

1. You will not be compensated(usually paid in exposure).

2. It doesn’t necessarily align with your brand.

3. You would prefer to sit it out.

You will hear me say over and over again: find your brand and stick to it; you can’t be everything to everybody. So, when approached like this, I’ve  learnt the power of politely saying “no”.

Now, this approach is for those of us that DO NOT want to participate in a particular offer that is being extended.  Maybe you do want to accept an offer, and the time/date/circumstances, etc. just don’t work for you, this list isn’t for you. This is for those of us that know that we shouldn’t or don’t want to be a part of an opportunity that is being offered.

  1. Thank them for thinking about you. This is important because they are putting themselves out there to ask you. Especially if they know they can’t afford your services or that there is a chance that you would say no. It is just the polite thing to do.
  2. Be direct and BRIEF when you say no.  This is probably the hardest thing that I had to learn . We are hard-wired to explain ourselves when we say no. You don’t need to.  Bottomline: if you know this is something that you would not be able to be a part of, the more you say, the more possibilities you are allowing to be talked INTO doing what you didn’t want to do in the first place. For example, let’s say they need you to speak at an event on a particular date or time, and you say “I’m sorry I can’t. I wish I could, but I  will be out-of-town/busy, etc” , you open yourself up. They can say “well we can move it back to a date/time you’re available…” Then you’re stuck, and flirt with the potential of being  perceived as rude or dismissive. You don’t want that. Instead, say something like, “I’m sorry I will not be able to participate” and leave it at that.
  3. Wish them success in their plans/event/show, etc (whatever it was that you were asked to be a part of). Again, you aren’t turning down the opportunity because you dislike the organizers, you are declining because the conditions aren’t right enough for you. So wish them success and best of luck in their event. You lose nothing by being polite and professional.
  4. Thank them one last time for thinking of you and ask that you be kept in mind for future opportunities. This is plain and simple. Just because the circumstances do not align now, doesn’t mean they never will – or even better, they share you in rooms and to people who are better aligned with what you need. By thanking them and asking that they continue to keep you in mind in the future, you leave room to build a mutually beneficial relationship. This is your professional way of saying “let’s be friends, and see where this could go”.
  5. OPTIONAL(and to be used cautiously): Extend an invite to assist them in another capacity that won’t be an inconvenience to you.  So this one is a tricky one. You do not want to extend yourself if you are unable, and this goes back to my third point about being brief. You do not want to be found in the same position that you literally just said no to.  Sometimes, this could mean connecting them to someone in your network that aligns better with the opportunity.

Easy, right? To some, yes; to people-pleasers like myself, this will take some time. That is totally okay. Sometimes we say No, not because we do not want to, but by saying no, we are saying “Yes” to ourselves.

How do you say no? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

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