17 Ways to Say No to an Assignment That’s Not Right for You

When you’re invited to work on a new project, assignment, or role that you’re excited to take on, it’s easy to say yes!
But then there are times when your heart, your gut, or your checklist of criteria tell you it’s a “nope”.

✅ Maybe you’re already at full capacity.
✅ Or the opportunity is a mismatch for your strengths or aspirations.
✅ Or the assignment undervalues your potential.
✅ Or it could compromise your home life.

I’m here to tell you: It’s OK to say no.

It’s OK to decline an assignment or role you’re offered. When you articulate the “no” with context, gratitude, diplomacy, and grace… it doesn’t have to feel like you’re letting the person down, or undermining your access to future opportunities.

This week I asked 1,400 participants in my Emerging Leaders Webinar Series:
👉 Have you ever said no to an opportunity that was offered to you?
👉 How did you communicate the “no”?

Their responses were a revelation!

Here are 17 ways to say no to an assignment with grace and diplomacy:

Starting today, I challenge you to be ruthless—but diplomatic—about negotiating and taking on assignments on your own terms. So you’re reserving the best of your time and energy for the work that showcases you at your best and propels you forward on your chosen trajectory.

👉 How have YOU said no to an opportunity that wasn’t right for you?

P.S. Shout out to the phenomenal Pamela Stewart, President of West Operations for Coca-Cola. Our conversation about all this helped me crystallize some thinking on this topic!

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