Telling people NO can be difficult and uncomfortable. Julie Zhuo's lays out her simple strategy for doing it well:
- Be honest and direct. A no is a no, and that should be communicated in the first or second sentence and not something that needs to be read between the lines.
- Talk about what you are prioritizing instead. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it should be true. Few things are ever no in a vacuum, so it tends to be about the tradeoffs, and people get that.
- If you’re even the slightest bit interested in the opportunity but can’t pursue it at the moment, mention that the no is for right now. In the future, who knows? Don’t prematurely rule out possibilities if you think things might change.