Saying “NO” As a Response To Invitation In a Polite Way

It is never easy to write refusals. It will help if you are clear in your own mind that you do really want to say “no”; any uncertainty or indecisiveness will undermine your letter.

One very good explanation for saying “no” is simply “I don’t want to.” When you have a particular reason for saying no and want to name it, do so. However, in order to support your decision, the fact that someone else wants you to do something confers no obligation on you.

Suggestions For Expressing Negative Response

When giving a negative response to invitations, write a letter of refusal: personal/business; proposals; requests; suggestions; wedding invitations. Following is a list of what to say and not what to say.

  1. For the offer, request, and invitation, thanks the person.
  2. State your “no,” expressing your regret at having to do so. If appropriate, explain your position.
  3. With the intent of help next time, to see the person again, or for good luck, end with a pleasant wish. Keep away from lengthy, involved excuses and apologies; they are far from convincing, even if true.
  4. Avoid phrases like “you may think,” “according to you,” “you claim.” In an emotional, factual way, restate the person’s request, complaint, or angry letter.
  5. Do not link your refusal to someone else’s actions (“my wife doesn’t care for.”) except in the incidental way that, for instance, a prior engagement prevents you from doing something.
  6. Completely avoid lies. It is too easy to be caught out, and you will be a lot more contended with yourself and with the other person the next time you meet if you stand by the truth.

When writing a refusal letter, remember the following tips:

  1. By means of a “thank you”, start out your refusal, if appropriate: “Thank you for your invitation, request, suggestion, and proposal.”
  2. Be tactful. Avoid reflecting on the person you’re writing to or on their invitation. State your refusal in terms of some inability on your part such as “will be out of town” or simply “will be not able to attend”.
  3. Keep your reply even-tempered and detached forever
  4. When possible, try to lower the writer’s disappointment in some way: Propose to help at a later date; suggest someone else who might be able to offer the same assistance; say sorry for your inability to approve the request; try to show some benefit to them from your refusal, then thank them for their interest, request, or concern.
  5. Such a small thing as reversing the order of your phrases may help. Prior to actually stating the refusal, give the reason for your refusal.


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