►5. Give an appropriate explanation.
When you turn down people at work or with whom you have a relationship, you will probably want to explain your “no.” My overall suggestion is just keep it honest and short.
You have some choices when it comes to explanations. Choose the one that best fits your situation.
With regard to our example above, Jorge could have used an “I-don’t-want” statement. He could have said, “No, I don’t want to loan the notes out so close to the exam.”
Or he could have used a “feeling” statement. He could have described the feelings behind his refusal. Jorge might have said, “No, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable parting with them.”
Another option is the “empathic assertion.” In other words, express your understanding of the other person’s need, but firmly assert your reason for refusing to help. If your coworker wants you to stay after work to help him complete a report, you could say, “I can see you’re in a bind, but I’ve made some plans with my family that I’m unwilling to cancel.”
Sometimes your appropriate explanation is one of “mixed feelings.” You decide to disclose the struggle that is caused by the other person’s request.
Let’s say, for example, that your manager suggests you give the customer a less-than-honest response about your shipping dates. He suggests you tell the customer there would be no problem in getting his order to him.
A “mixed feelings” statement might sound something like this: “Part of me would like to tell the customer his order will be there on time, but the other part knows that manufacturing is so backed up that we won’t be able to do that. I need to be honest with the customer and tell him we’ll do everything we can to get his order out on time, but there’s a chance it will take a bit longer. My personal ethics require that I tell the truth.”
There are other times when your refusal is a partial “no” instead of a total “no.” In those cases, use the next guideline.