Business English

Saying No in Business English

When selecting an approach for saying no in any particular situation, we always need to bear in mind three key dimensions: individual personality, culture and the business context. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How stable are the people we are communicating with?
  • How emotional are they? Can they take rejection?
  • What is their communication style? Will they respond better to directness or indirectness?
  • Is their thinking hierarchical? Would they need to hear no from a leader, or will they accept it from a peer?
  • Is saving face an issue? How acceptable is it to say no to this person in front of colleagues and managers?
  • What’s the best long-term approach? Should I say no to this person or coach them to understand the problems?
  • What is the business situation? How risky is it for profits to say yes? Is it essential to say no?

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