5 ways to politely say no in business English

Pearson Languages
Four business people sat at a desk, one is on a laptop and another is pointing at whats in front of them

Knowing how to say no politely and professionally is important in the business world. Whether you're declining a job offer, rejecting a sales pitch, or turning down a project, saying no can be difficult. Especially if English is not your native language and you're new to learning business English.

However, using the right phrases can make all the difference in maintaining positive relationships and avoiding misunderstandings. This blog post will explore five phrases to say no in business English politely.

 

5 ways to politely say no in business English
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"Thank you for considering me, but I must respectfully decline."

This phrase expresses appreciation for the opportunity while also firmly declining. It shows that you value the other person's time and effort, but that you have made a decision that cannot be changed. This is handy when declining job offers or business proposals.

"I appreciate your interest, but unfortunately, I'm unable to commit at this time."

This saying acknowledges the other person's interest while being clear and direct about your decision. It shows that you are taking their request seriously but cannot fulfill their request at the moment. This phrase is helpful when declining invitations or business proposals.

"I understand where you're coming from, but I don't think it's the right fit for me."

This is a polite way to decline a business proposal or sales pitch. It acknowledges the other person's effort and interest. At the same time, it is honest about your decision. This one is helpful for declining a product or service that doesn't meet your needs or expectations.

"Thank you for the opportunity, but I'm afraid it's not something I can take on right now."

This expression is an excellent way to decline a business request, such as a speaking engagement or additional projects. It shows that you appreciate the offer but cannot accept it now. This is particularly useful when you're declining an opportunity that you may be interested in in the future.

"Thank you for thinking of me, but I'm afraid I won't be able to."

This phrase is a straightforward way to decline an offer. It's important to remember that this phrase should be used sparingly and only in situations where a longer explanation is unnecessary. This is good for declining a small request or a minor opportunity.


Saying no in business can be tricky. However, these phrases can help you decline politely and professionally while still preserving positive relationships. Show appreciation and thankfulness. Explain the logic behind your decision and be courteous.

These steps will help to avoid confusion and hurt feelings. By using these phrases, you can improve your communication skills and effectively say no in business English. Being able to navigate around saying no politely can also help you learn English in general, working on negotiation and explanations, as well as your corporate English learning.

Want to improve your business English? Have a look at our business English courses or our language learning app Mondly. 

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