The Courtesy of “No Thank You”

Business, Communication, General Jun 17, 2009 11 Comments
We try to teach our kids good manners. One thing we teach them to say is “no, thank you”. It’s not a big deal to say “no, thank you” and move on. So, when between childhood and adulthood did people forget how to say “no, thank you”?

We’ve all been there before. Somebody offers you something, it could be anything – an invite to a party, a business proposal, heck even a stick of gum. We usually respond with a “yes”, a “maybe”, some silence, or sometimes a “no, thank you”. Lately I’ve been surprised at how many times I offer something to someone and simply never hear from them again. I realize people don’t have to fall in love with everything I do or offer…but seriously? No response?

A Few Examples

A friend of a friend asked me to help him out with developing a new website for his business. I told him I’d put together a price quote and send him an e-mail. Two weeks went by – no answer. Was my price too high? Did he find someone else? Was he simply not interested anymore? Who knows. I never heard back…

I listed my Dad’s Audi A4 for sale a few weeks ago and received a call from a local girl. She was driving by my office downtown, saw that the car was for sale, gave me a call, and went out for a test drive. She said her dad would be off work in a couple hours and she would pay cash. A few hours went by, no call. I left a voicemail and never heard from her again…

Our Response

I come by instances like these all the time where I get no response so I assume the answer is “no”. It’s not that I’m frustrated with their decision of declining my offer, it’s the method. Sure, we all like to hear a “Yes”, but even a “No”, or better yet, a “No, Thank You” is better than silence. I’m just interested in having closure. If I’m honest with myself, I know I do this too. I either change the subject after a question I don’t want to say no to, or just never answer, hoping they get the gist.

I realize it’s often hard to say “no” but I think we need to get back in the habit of saying “no, thank you” when we simply don’t want something or want to do something. I think people have got into a bad habit of letting the silence say “no” for them and it’s a cop-out.

Of course we can’t always say “yes”, but we do have a choice in how we communicate our response – staying silent isn’t an option.

Saying “No, Thank You” is a courtesy we can’t afford to ignore.

11 Responses to “The Courtesy of “No Thank You””

  1. Reply Anita says:

    Best policy: take charge. Say to people: ‘If I don’t hear from you by … I will assume the answer is no / you’re not interested.’

  2. Reply Wardell says:

    I totally agree, I think Anita has a good idea as well but you may not always want to give people a strict deadline when first making an offer or proposal.

  3. Reply Todd Chandler says:

    It’s odd how some people are too polite to be polite enough to say, “No thank you.” They’ve taken the rule, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” too far by not realizing the nicer thing to do is say “No.”

  4. Reply David Lano says:

    @Anita @Wardell – I agree, whoever makes the initial offer has the responsibility to set the tone, but of course it’s not a one way conversation.

    @Todd – Oh how it is so true! I find myself doing that WAY too often. (*sigh)

  5. Reply Leigh says:

    I completely agree. Silence is a cop out. It’s rude, and quite frankly, I think it’s cowardly.

    So many of us are scared to be honest with those around us for fear of upsetting or disappointing them, We’re scared of the conflict the no might bring. But like it or not, it’s a part of life. We do need to teach our children that they need to say no when no is necessary. Not only as a courtesy to others, but as a way of standing up for ourselves, what we want and who we are.

  6. Reply Faraz says:

    I so agree with you there, mate.

    For sellers this creates an especially awkward situation.. cause if some one shows interest in what I’m selling and then disappears without saying , “I’m sorry but I’m not interested anymore”

    Like I would prefer to get that response rather than just saying nothing cause we don’t want to call them back and ask so why havn’t I heard from you.. this just reduces the value of the product we’re selling.

  7. Reply Brian Gomsak says:

    I am glad that it is not just me. I think it goes beyond just a lack of response to estimates, offers of service, and the like. It is a trend toward a lack of responsiveness in general. While social media and networking has created multiple means of communicating, I feel it has also had a negative effect in that it has changed the usual give and take of a dialogue into more of a one way street, which is either gathering info, or sending it out.

    Social graces and a general respect for the other person has unfortunately been lost to some degree. I understand that time is precious to everyone these days but think that taking out just one minute to at least write a quick email to respond with that “no thank you” or the simple, “I am not interested” is a more descent and respectful way of saying no than ignoring someone. Then again I am that guy who is actually polite to tele-marketers and even take the time to give them my sound reason for declining their offer.

  8. Reply David Lano says:

    @Brian – I couldn’t agree more – well said.

    I like how you’re polite to tele-marketers. Just because tele-marketers abuse the permission marketing rule of thumb Seth Godin talks about oh so often, doesn’t mean we have the right to blow them off and not treat them like actual human beings – unless of course they’re computers : )

    Nonetheless, you’ve inspired me, and I appreciate your thoughts – thank you.

  9. Reply fishing organizations says:

    I am going to say “Thank you!” to you for bringing up this important, but often overlooked subject.

    I have found that many of the youth I encounter today are very polite and courteous. It’s the adults who often could use a lesson or two on manners.

  10. Reply Promotional Products says:

    I think people feel like they can be jerks and let you hang, or they are at least apathetic because they have nothing to lose. Not sure how the Audi situation worked out, but I hate turning other people off by saying I already have something in the works. I thought about going to a first person who brings me the money wins, but I have too much respect for people I do business with. Man, does it hurt to lose a contact or a project because of lack of courtesy. Good reminder and great post. Thanks David.

  11. Reply Sammy Nams says:

    It seems that modern culture has beaten us into a group of passive, politically correct people. I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of this exact thing. Especially when people approach me with advertising proposals. I guess it’s time to start busting out the N O more often. lol First time to your blog but both posts I’ve read have been good enough to compel this lurker into commenting.

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