How to say no to the task, but yes to the person

Sometimes, people we admire and respect show up and ask for our help. „It’s nothing much, just take a look at this, please!“ It can be the colleague at work. Yes, that one favorite colleague of all, exactly that one. Or it can be a dear friend.

And most of the times we just go ahead and say yes, because we really do admire and respect these persons.

Even if we simply don’t want to. We either don’t have the time, the moods or the energy for this. Even if helping means doing something we might even dislike. Even if doing a task with a negative energy and a grumpy attitude is for sure not the treatment these persons have earned. It’s not helping them at all.

And then again, why do we do this, after all? Simply because we’re just not trained to say no to the task, but yes to the person.

So what then? Is there any decent, reasonable way to get out?

In one of my coachings, my client and I came up with this easy to adapt email template.

How to say no to the task, but yes to the person

Dear Name,

Thank you so much for the vote of confidence and for asking my support on (name situation).

Considering my current timing situation (or name another reason), I am afraid I won’t be able to help you with this.

Alternative for work, if it’s not part of your job: Considering my current job tasks and the work overload, I won’t be able to deliver this task at your expectations.

What I can help you with is: __________________________ (name alternative offers).

My friend/ colleague XYZ is also very good at this stuff, I would love to put you two in touch. or Here are my usual documents/ templates / past projects on this matter.

Feel free to adapt them! Again, thank you for thinking of me. You are awesome!

Kind Regards,
Your Name

Let me know how this works out for you. How do you deal with this kind of tricky situations? I am curious!

– Masha

P.S: if you need help, feel free to get in touch!