Learn How To Say No



In today’s episode I give you tips on how to say NO in a polite manner, without hurting other people’s feelings. How to reject someone politely and also how to deal with rejections. Enjoy :)



Hello guys, you are listening to the English Made Simple show, this is episode number 1-1-2, 1-12, or one hundred and twelve, numero ciento doce.

Welcome to another cool episode of the EMS show, my name is Milena from www.englishmadesimple.net.

Hey amigos, nice to have you tune in today. Thank you for taking the time out of your super, extremely, busy days to tune in to the English Made Simple show, nice to have you onboard amigos.

To my regular listeners, welcome for the 112th time and to my new listeners, welcome amigos y amigas, sit back, enjoy and learn some English.

And that’s why we are here!

Today’s episode will be a bit different.
It is sort of related to the business speak from last month, it is related but not completely. It will apply to the everyday English type of conversations but it can also be applicable to business English as well.

So, let’s get straight into it!

Let me start off by asking you a question: amigos, have you ever been rejected? Te han rechazado alguna vez?
Or have you ever had to reject somebody? Have you ever had to say No to someone? Le has tenido que decir No a alguien?

We’ve all been there before. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. Received too many rejections in my life, in my personal and professional life. Ce’st la vie! But I’ve also been on the other side when I had to give rejections, when I had to reject somebody.

It’s never nice to reject someone and it’s never nice to receive a rejection.

On the other hand, saying Yes to too many things sounds great in theory but it can often cause problems if we say YES to more than we can physically and mentally handle.

In today’s episode I am going to give you some tips on how say NO in a polite manner, without hurting other people’s feelings. How to reject someone politely and also how to deal with rejections. What’s the best approach to dealing with rejections? Stay till the end of the show to find out more, I’ll give you some examples.

You know, I am surprised that not many English books talk about rejections, or teach about how to express disagreements. There are some books out there that do mention this, however there aren’t too many of them.

In any case, I’ve decided to record today’s episode to introduce you to some new terminology which I think will be of great use to you.

It’s useful and sometimes necessary in life to learn how to say No politely.

It’s a skill to be able to say NO to someone.

So, what are some situations or examples where someone may be rejected?

– the number 1 example of where someone may be rejected is at the job interview, or after the job interview I should say.

You know what I mean, you go to the interview but you just don’t get the job at the end. I will talk more about this as an example later on, so stick around.

– the next example would be you resign from your current place of employment or you resign from your job. That could be considered as a rejection.

More examples where a person could be rejected is:

– when the company decides to fire you or make you redundant – cuando te despiden del trabajo– normally, they would prepare something called a Termination letter or Letter of Termination and they would’ve had to give you plenty of notice.

– when you say no to your colleagues who invite you to afterwork activities, such as the afterwork drinks

– you could be saying No to your boss, that’s a scary one…saying no to extra work.

– and when you are on a romantic date and you don’t like the person you are having the dinner with, you will have to politely say no to that person, after the dinner of course. First, eat!

– you could be saying No to your family members, I don’t know about you, but I am usually very straightforward – o directa -with my family members, sometimes just saying No thanks is good enough, you don’t have to start explaining yourself why…

Like the time when my husband asks me to wash the dishes? And I say, Nah!
See, no further explanation required.

– you would have to say No to you friends, how do you say No to your friends without sounding like a bi-atch, without sounding arrogant.

Ok so those were some real life examples you would find yourselves in, some are difficult and some are easy-to-handle situations.

When it comes to work scenarios we must learn how to say NO so that we don’t overwhelm ourselves, because if we do say yes to everything we risk double booking ourselves or creating a neverending to-do list.

A –ha! I used a couple of terms here that I need to explain to you guys. The two phrases: To be double booked and a to-do list.

You can double book yourself by accident. It just means to reserve 2 different meetings for the same time, at the same hour.

Realistically speaking, physically you are not able to attend two meetings at the same time! Not possible.

Unless you are a wonder-woman. Wonder-woman can appear anywhere any time, she has the super-powers, but you don’t!

It could happen when you travel, your hotel can inadvertently double book you because their booking system failed. It did happen to me once, so they had to find another available room to put me in. It does happen guys!

And the next useful phrase to remember is – a to-do list, the one I mentioned earlier.

A to-do list is a list of tasks that need to be completed by set due dates. The dates which you would have set by yourself, for yourself. Normally, you would be the one who prepares your own To-do list. Also you would prioritize it as well.
Usually, the first task on the list would be the most important one to be completed.

Ok now, let me give you example phrases which you can start using today (if necessary!) to say No to someone. Let’s use the workplace as an example.

For instance, your boss comes up to you and says: Carlos, are you able to start on the XYZ project, we need someone to start on this ASAP – as soon as possible.

But Carlos is already super busy and is working on two other projects that are due very soon. How could Carlos say No to his boss? How can Carlos best manage this situation? What’s the best reply to his boss?

I know the worst response!

The worst response Carlos could give to his boss would be – No, I can’t fit it into my current workload. Are you nuts? Are you out of your mind? Leave me alone. I got no time for you.

Ok that’s the worst case scenario.

Instead Carlos could say:

I am currently working on the project X which is due next week, and I am also preparing the Sales Presentation for next month, how much time can you give me to complete the new project?

Carlos should get his boss to re-prioritize responsibilities for him. His boss needs to be aware of the workload.


Another example I’d like to share with you guys is saying No to your colleagues or your friends.

Let’s imagine either one of them – colleagues or friends – invite you to a party, but what you would rather do is stay at home in your pj’s, eat fast food, drink wine and watch Netflix, watch some telenovelas.

What would you say to your friends or colleagues in this case so that you don’t hurt their feelings?

One way you could reject them politely is to say, Oh wow that sounds like a great idea, but I’m afraid I can’t join you. I had a long and stressful week, and I need some time to rest. You guys have fun without me, let’s catch up next time.

It’s better to give an extended answer or a bit of a long explanation when you are saying No to your friends, it kinda softens the blow. Try not to be short with your answers.

If you simply say, no thanks. They might get offended. Try to avoid being short with your answers.

Another simple way of declining the invitation would be, in this case:

Thank you for the invite guys, but I’ve already made other plans for tonight. I’ll be keen to go with you next time. Have fun!

Do you agree with me amigos? Hope so!

Just now, I mentioned something earlier, I mentioned a new phrase: it softens the blow – it’s an expression and it means to make the other person feel less disappointed for rejecting them, by offering them a little bit of hope, like I did in my example, I said: I can’t make it this time, but let’s catch up another time. I’m giving them a little bit of hope there.

Saying it this way doesn’t appear too arrogant to decline the invitation straight away. Are you with me so far?

Great, I am teaching you some nice manners here guys. Cool bananas!

What happens when you are writing a letter to say No to someone?
When you are writing a letter or an email to reject someone, how do you do that?

When writing a rejection letter follow these simple steps:

Number 1, Say thanks. Deliver the bad news. Give the main reason for the bad news. Offer Hope.

For example, a rejection letter or an email after the job interview could read something like this:

Hi Carlos, Thanks for making the time to talk with me last week. While I enjoyed our conversation, I think we need someone with more hands-on project management experience for this role. I wish you good luck with your job search, and wish you all the best in your professional endeavours.
Signed: Faithfully, John Smith

No hard feelings.

And with this, we are approaching the end of the today’s show.

I hope you learnt something new today amigos y amigas.
We’ve all experienced some type of rejections in our lives. We just have to learn how to deal with rejections in our own way.

Find what works for you, maybe crying will fix it, maybe going out for a run, or eating a spoonful of nutella could make you feel better. Talking with your best friend, with your partner, you’ll feel better afterwards I am sure. At the end of the day, do what makes you feel good.

If you were unsuccessful at a job interview, then try and reflect back on the experience and see if you need to improve on anything for next time.

As my mum says, everything happens for a reason.

Those were my wise words for today.

Thank you for joining me amigos y amigas, if you’ve enjoyed today’s show, please share it with your friends. Remember all transcripts are available on my website, www.englishmadesimple.net. You’ve been jamming with Milena, until next time, hasta la proxima!

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