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Say No with These SMS and Email Templates

Not many people look for text messages or email templates to help them say no.

Having no templates not only saves time but also prevents you from talking yourself into saying yes.

Since you are here, I’m guessing you already know the value of saying no, and you are eager to find ways to do it better or faster.

Like you, I am a big proponent of turning down most of the requests or “opportunities” that come to me.

Over the years, I’ve turned down enough requests to come up with more than 10 templates to say no via email or a text message.

I’m sharing all of them in this post, categorized based on the most common types of requests. Feel free to use or customize them to your own needs.

Meetings / Coffee Sessions / Meetups

These requests are the most common. Start fending them off today with these templates.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for the invite.

It’s just not the right time for me to do it now. My schedule is very packed because of my recent focus on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

If you have questions for me, please share them here. I’ll get to them when I have some free time.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, I would love to meet but my schedule won’t allow it due to my recent focus on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. I can answer questions that you have for me, though. Please send them over if you have any. I’ll get to them when I can.

Video / Voice Calls

Calls are great alternatives for face-to-face meetings. You get to save commute and wait times while keeping the tone of voice in your interactions, which can be important for some agendas.

However, you can save more time by getting the other person to send an email, a voice note, or a video recording over, summarizing everything he/she wants to talk about. Doing that also gives you the room to deliberate a decision if needed, without the unsolicited pressure that comes from staying on the line with the other person.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Instead of doing a call, can you please send over a summary of what you want to discuss? It can be a video recording or a voice note.

We can always jump on a call if there is a need to clarify anything in that summary.

Thanks.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, can you please send over a summary of what you want to discuss before we jump on a call? It can be a video recording or a voice note. Thanks.

Job Opportunities

Marketers, especially those armed with digital know-how, are one of the most in-demand professionals today.

I love recruiters. I don’t want to ignore them. But I am also not interested in the job opportunities they have. That’s why I keep these templates handy.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Thank you for reaching out with a solid opportunity. I am not looking for a career change at the moment, so I will need to give this a pass.

Let’s stay in touch. I will connect my peers with you if any of them are looking for a new job.

Text Message:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, thank you for reaching out. I’m not looking for a career change at the moment, but I’ll connect you with my peers if any of them are looking for a new job.

New Projects / Collaborations / Speaking Gigs

Most projects, opportunities to collaborate, and speaking gigs are not that interesting. They just don’t align with my passion, life goals, and delivers very little impact on the audience that they are serving.

As I explained in How to Say No, I use “hell yes or no” as a guideline to decide whether to take up an opportunity or to turn it down.

I decline a lot of these invites today using the templates below.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

I’m glad that I crossed your mind for this exciting project of yours.

I have to say no because my plate is full. Besides, taking care of my overall well-being is very important to me. I will not commit to too many projects at one time.

I hope you can find someone else to help you out. Wishing you all the best.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, thanks for thinking about me for this. I can’t take it up because I want to focus on my current projects. I hope you can find someone else that’s suitable.

Free Work

People may assume that a favor related to our skillset won’t take much of our time, and it’s okay for us to do it for free. Of course, it’s not true.

You invested time and energy to learn those skills, and to gather experience, so use the following replies to say no to free work.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for thinking about me for this project, but I have to say no.

As much as I would love to help everybody who reached out with my skills, I give paid projects a higher priority because they support my lifestyle and professional growth as a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Let me know if you want to talk about this as a paid project.

I hope you understand. Thanks again for reaching out.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, thanks for thinking about me. I’d love to help but it needs to be a paid project. I give paid projects a higher priority because they support my lifestyle and professional growth as a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Let me know if you want to proceed with hiring me for this project.

Introductions

The act of introducing one person to another adds value to your relationship with the people whom you are connecting.

In most cases, I am happy to connect two people in my network if I think both of them will benefit from it. Yet, there had been instances when I felt uncomfortable making an introduction. I just couldn’t see how it can be mutually beneficial, and I don’t want a scenario with one of them taking advantage of the other.

Here’s how you can turn down a request for an introduction.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

I’m glad to hear from you and what you’re up to.

I don’t feel comfortable introducing you to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX at this time. Based on my most recent conversations with him/her, I am not sure if he/she will be interested in your project.

I hope you understand. Please let me know if I can help in any other way.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, it’s great to hear from you! Love the update. I know XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, but I don’t feel comfortable introducing him/her to you at this time. He/She may not be interested based on my last few conversations with him/her. I hope you understand. Let me know how else I can help.

Social Outings

I used to say yes a lot to social outings because I didn’t want to disappoint my friends. It was so bad that I kept ending up with an overbooked calendar. I was still saying yes even though I was tired or had some other plans.

Don’t be like me. Use the templates below to say no to social outings.

Email / Calendar Invite:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for the invite. Unfortunately, I am planning to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX at that time and won’t be able to attend.

Have fun and enjoy it to the fullest!

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX! Thanks for thinking about me and inviting me, but I won’t be able to make it. I am planning to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Enjoy and have lots of fun!

Questions / Brainpickers

I love helping people out. It’s satisfying to see the impact of your advice. If a question requires a straightforward answer, I will shoot over a quick reply.

I say no when I get questions that I’d rather answer with a blog post. The impact of the latter is much bigger for the amount of time that I will spend crafting the answer.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for reaching out. I prefer answering your question with a blog post because I’m sure many people are in a similar position and will find the answer useful.

I’ve included it in my list of topics to write about. Keep an eye out for it on wayneliew.com.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, thanks for the question. I’ll answer it with a blog post because others can also benefit from it. Keep an eye out for it on wayneliew.com.

Media Interviews

Getting featured by a media outlet is great, but not all of these requests will match the positioning and growth strategy of your brand. Say no with these templates if you are feeling overwhelmed by media interview requests.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, I have to turn it down to focus on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX in the next few weeks.

I hope you understand. All the best with the piece.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, thanks for reaching out. I have to turn it down to focus on XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Hope you understand. All the best with the piece.

Donations

I don’t get this a lot, but occasionally, an acquaintance will ask for a donation towards a cause they support. When this happens, it’s always a no because I contribute a charity body here in Malaysia through a monthly recurring donation.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thanks for thinking of me. That’s a great cause.

Unfortunately, I have to say no. I am committed to helping XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. All my money for charity will go to them this year.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, that’s a great cause! Unfortunately, I have to say no. I’m committed to helping XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, and all my money for charity will go to them this year.

Sales Pitches

Some of my best discoveries of impactful tools happened because a salesperson reached out.

However, almost all the sales pitches I received are irrelevant or cut-and-paste spam. The best thing to do is not to reply at all. If you must, use these templates.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for reaching out. I am not interested, and please don’t follow up. I will reach out if I ever require what you’re offering.

Text Message:

Thanks for reaching out. I’m not interested, and please don’t follow up. I will reach out if I ever require what you’re offering.

Persistent Follow-Ups

It happens. Some people just don’t get it. I will just stop replying to them. Blacklisting or blocking their email address and phone numbers is also an option worth considering.

If you are nicer, or if the person happens to be someone close to you, these templates will come in handy.

Email:

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

I love the persistence! It’s still a no from me. Please stop following up because it’s getting annoying. I’m sure there are many other options out there that will be a better fit for the project than myself.

All the best.

Text Message:

Hey XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, it’s still a no from me. Please stop following up because it’s getting annoying. I’m sure there are better options out there for the project than myself. All the best!

Craft Your Own Templates with These Tips

Before using the templates above, I suggest tweaking them to fit your usual tone of voice and word choices.

You can also rewrite them to come up with your own templates. Want to do it? Here are some tips for you.

Acknowledge a Request Positively

Your email or text message to say no should always start on a positive note. Doing so offsets the negative sentiment attached to rejection. We don’t want to burn bridges here.

Thank the person for reaching out or give him/her a compliment.

Make it Concise

Templates need to be generic enough so that you can use them for most of the scenarios you encounter.

However, they must also be concise enough to address the types of requests that you are getting. That’s why I have a total of eleven templates, not just a standard reply for all requests.

Elaborate Only if You Have to

In my templates, I try not to elaborate on my reasons for saying no. It is intentional because I don’t want the other person to question my reasons and create more back-and-forth.

Of course, if you are replying to someone close to you, then you should give the person more context as to why you are saying no.

Don’t Forget About Personalization

A simple way to remind yourself to personalize an email or text message template is by having a placeholder that takes up enough space to catch your attention.

For example, don’t just write:

I hope your project with xxx will go well.

You might miss the placeholder. Instead, use a longer placeholder like this:

I hope your project with XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX will go well.

Close Gracefully

Always close your message on a positive note. If are you open to alternatives, mention it here to make it available for the person.

My No Templates Workflow

  1. Create a no template after saying no three times.
  2. Store the templates on your favorite note-taking software. I use Evernote.
  3. To use the template, copy, paste, personalize, and send. It’s that simple!

Time for Freedom

Now that you have all the templates, use them to say no. Grant yourself the freedom to say yes to things that matter and opportunities that excite you the most.

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