How to Give a Polite Refusal

Help your child life by teaching him manners. Too often basic niceties are not given and the person on the receiving end feels slighted or worse, offended. Being a good example is essential to proper manners, so whether you are brushing up on your etiquette for yourself or someone else, everyone will benefit. Saying "No" politely is an important social skill. Read on to learn how to give a polite refusal.

Choose your words carefully. Rather than refusing to do something, try “declining” to do it. By simply changing your everyday words, you show that you are not angry or mean, just not able to accept the invitation or offer. The vocabulary and content you use should not be rude or harsh.

Be sure to use diplomacy by not using negative words, or if the words must be negative, soften them. Use "unable" instead of "can’t," "turn down" instead of "reject," "end" instead of "terminate." Only use the less sensitive phrasing if the person on the receiving end has been told numerous times and has not gotten the message for some reason. Give a reason for refusing and always wish the person you are refusing success elsewhere. You will need to adjust the phrasing to fit the situation you are in.

If you are able, write a letter that contains the refusal. Similar to speaking your refusal, begin the letter with a buffer statement or acknowledgment and express regret sincerely. Let the person know the reason why you are refusing, if possible. Offer a suggestion for an alternative when possible. Earning the respect of the person you are refusing simply by handling them with kindness and honesty is the goal.

Refusing offers is an everyday occurrence for most of us, so it is imperative to learn tactfulness and grace. Complimenting somebody’s cooking before refusing more food, for instance, is the proper way to handle the offer off more food. Refusing an offer for a date demands honesty tempered with kindness. You don’t want the other person to harbor any hope for a return of affection. The golden rule always applies when refusing somebody. Treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Never make future offers to replace refusals unless you are sincere. This closes the door on future unwanted situations, for the most part. The awkwardness everybody feels when refusing a kind offer will be tempered with the knowledge you handled the situation in the best manner available. And remember that when children are watching, they are learning. Teach the children in your life the valuable lesson of refusing with politeness.