How to Graciously Say No

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I’m a people pleaser.

So in the moment, it’s easier just to say “yes” when someone asks me to do something.

But “yes” is a check future me must cash.

And that’s when the problems start…

Here’s a harsh truth I’ve learned the hard way:

Saying “Yes” to someone else’s priorities for you often means saying no to God’s priorities for you.

Time is limited.

If you’re going to make an impact with your life, you’re going to have to disappoint some people.

But how do you say no to a request and do it in a godly way?

Here are 3 rules for giving a gracious no:

Rule 1: Be Kind, But Be Honest

Sometimes I say yes to something and then get mad at the person who asked me to do it.

I’ll blame them for:

• Not respecting my time
• Making me feel overwhelmed
• When I can’t get it done

But I’m the one who said yes!

If you don’t have time, or it’s not a priority, just kindly say something like,

”Sorry, this sounds like a great opportunity, but I have too much going on right now to give it the attention it deserves.”

It doesn’t have to be complicated. People understand.

Rule 2: Don’t Say Maybe, When You Mean No

Sometimes to save face, we say maybe to requests when we know we aren’t actually going to be able to do them.

Do the requester the favor of giving a definite answer so they can move on and find someone else.

Rule 3: Make ‘No’ Your Default Answer

For the longest time I said yes to everything. It was my default answer.

I thought people would be disappointed if I said no.

But I learned they were much more disappointed when I couldn’t follow through because I was overcommitted.

Now when I get an unexpected request, I say something like this:

“My schedule is pretty full, so I can’t commit to that right now. But I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

It’s better to come back later with a yes when you first said no, than a no when you first said yes.

3 Rules for Graciously Saying No:

• Be kind, but be honest.
• Don’t say maybe when you mean no.
• Make no your default answer.

If you’d like to share it, this post originally appeared as a Twitter thread:

P.s. if you struggle with overcommitment, I may be able to help. I created a simple system for honoring God without losing your mind. It’s called Overcoming Overcommitment.

Join the discussion

  • Yes, that’s a great skill to have. I call it the Spiritual Gift of Saying No. I say something similar to what you suggested, along the lines of, “I am fully committed right now, and one more thing will put me over the top.”

  • Hello, I almost didn’t watch this but I am so glad I did! I had no idea how God inspired and God glorifying your explanation would be. I am a lifelong people pleaser with a whole heap of burned bridges behind me. Over commiting hurts us, hurts them, hurts God and then comes back to hurt us again as people eventually don’t trust or rely on you anymore. It IS an integrity thing! Thanks so much for the chat, the Bible verses and your determination to follow God first.

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