How to Say No


how to say no

My mentor shared this with me last week and I wanted to share with all of you, because knowing how to say no the right way will CHANGE your life. In high school and undergraduate, I was always saying yes yes yes; however, the older I get, the more I realize that I need to be selective about which opportunities and projects I take on. It is far better to do fewer things extremely well than do many things in a mediocre fashion. We all only have 24 hours in one day, so we need to choose carefully where we spend our time. Part of growing older and learning time management means learning how to say no in an effective way.

From my mentor Dr. Eleni Linos, who learned this from her mentor Dr. Meg Chren:

1) Say thank you for the offer

2) Acknowledge what an important job/task/invitation this is, and generally valuable task (ie make the other person feel valued and important)

3) list all the other things you are working on at that time (with that person or in general) so they get a sense of how busy you are right now, and possibly prioritize this list

4) say no in a nice way

5) leave the door open for doing it next year ie ‘why don’t we touch base again in 1 year, or i hope you will consider asking me next year’

6) thank them

For example, here is a made-up email:

Dear Dr. Ilovemedicine,

I am really honored to be invited to your conference, DoctorsAreCool. I had a really great time presenting at DoctorsAreCool in the past; I learned a lot and the audience raised great questions for discussion. Unfortunately I have looked through my schedule for that time period and between my lab meetings, clinic duties, and teaching seminarsI have to prepare for, I do not think I will be able to make the conference this year. However, I really would love to come at a future date; I wonder if you would be ok with me coming sometime next year?
Let’s touch base again closer to the conference next year.

Many thanks again for thinking of me and inviting me!


Tea with MD


Any tips you guys have on saying no effectively? This is such an important skill!


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