TABLE OF CONTENTS / Click here for the printer friendly version

The SeamLess Life

Issue # 18 January 11, 1999

About the Author:

Sherry Lowry, MA/MS, M.C.C., is a professional mentor and business coach for executives, business owners, other coaches, psychologists/ therapists, and professionals in transition. She has developed seven businesses, including one non-profit with 20,000 clients. Sherry leads group telephone conferences and trainings with other field experts on marketing with heart, using public speaking in marketing, and for therapists transitioning as coaches. A board member on the International Coach Federation, Sherry is credentialed at their Master Certifed Coach level and participates in the Professional Coaches’ and Mentor’s Association.

Contact Sherry for a complimentary session on The SeamLess Life™ approach or for information on coaching and professional mentoring.

Contact info:
Sherry Lowry, MCC
Austin, Texas USA
Ph: 512-527-0097

Web Site:

Saying The Graceful 'No':
Part I

"Saying 'no' to this is my gift to whoever says 'yes.'"
--Travis Twomey

In last week's Seamless Life™ we said that to build your resilience, you need to set good boundaries and limits. That means being able to say 'no' when you mean 'no.' When 'no' is really the right answer for you.

This week and next, we're sharing suggestions about how to say no. They're the favorite ways that we and our colleagues have found to tell someone 'no' and do it gracefully.

    1. "This does sound like something that may be for me--AND I've just committed to sticking to 3 other priorities right now. Will you come back in 90 days and give me another chance to look at this opportunity with you?"

    This one works because it acknowledges your interest AND keeps you from taking on more than you can really complete. If the other person is really interested in this, they'll get back to you and ask again. Make sure that you're telling the truth-that there is really an opportunity there that you see for yourself. BUT, don't use this one when you really don't want to do what's being asked. You'll just have to say 'no' twice. Worse yet, you'll have intentionally mislead them.

    1. "I wish I could, but it's just not possible right now. Thank you for thinking of me."

    Your 'no' is based on the timing of the request. Thanking the requester is what really helps here. Be sincere. Because you've acknowledged your thanks, the person will think of you again when similar opportunities come around. So, you've said 'no' to this one but not to others that are similar. The requester will be back. Make sure you want that to happen before you use this one.

  • About the Author:

    Diane Menendez, Ph.D., M.C.C., business and life coach, has been a full-time professional coach since 1988. She's coached 350+ executive and professional clients to achieve their goals and, in the process, to create work and lives which are richly satisfying.

    Diane's domain name,, is an expression of her belief that, "Your work supports you to thrive when it brings you rich financial rewards and great joy." Yes, that's what she means -- real joy, enough to make your heart dance.

    Contact Diane for a complimentary coaching session to help you discover your brilliance.

    Contact info:
    HeartDance, Cincinnati, Ohio USA
    Ph: (513)474-1137

    Web Site:

    Similar variations are:
    1. "Thanks for thinking of me, but I don't think so right now."

    2. "I hate saying 'no' to you, but I really must this time."

    3. "It doesn't work for me at this time."

    Make sure after you say one of these, you just stop. Don't say any more. No need to justify or give reasons.

    1. "This year my priorities are very few but very focused. I won't be able to squeeze this one in."

      Our colleague Laura Berman-Fortgang is saying 'no' this way right now. She's the author of a great book, "Take Yourself to the Top". She gets many requests to speak but her priority is a book tour. You'll be in good company if you use this one!

    2. "This isn't a good time for me to do that - I have other commitments. I'll let you know if I can spend time on it later."

    3. "What a wonderful invitation - but I'm just stretched too much to accept it."

      Remember that you don't have to tell the other person what your priorities are. We suggest, in fact, that you don't. You don't want to get into a debate about whether your priorities are truly more important or valuable than what the other person is asking you to do.

    We suggest you practice saying each of these 'graceful no' lines until you've become comfortable hearing yourself say them. Then, when the time comes, you'll be ready to respond gracefully.

    Do you have wonderful ways you've found to say NO? Send us your suggestions and ideas, and we'll include them in next week's article.

    (Thanks to our colleagues, Laura Berman Fortgang, Mad Homan, Donice Hall, Jane Kalagher, Roberta Beck, Cathy Stucker, and Travis Twomey for sharing their graceful strategies with us and Seamless Life™ readers.)

    Coming Attractions!

    Next week: Issue#19

    Saying the Graceful 'NO' : Part II

    E-Mail us with questions or suggestions.
    Sherry can be reached at
    Ph: 512-527-0097

    Diane and Sherry's book, Discovering Your Best Self Through the Art of Coaching, can be ordered at

    Back to the Top / Previous Issues

  • Text © Diane Menendez & Sherry Lowry, 1998, 1999. Part of the original Sideroad.
    The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at