It Is OK to Say “NO.” “Maybe” and “Yes” Are Also Solid Options.

Photo by Liza Summer on

Recently I completed an editing job that I do a couple of times a year. I am responsible for collecting articles and doing the editing. Someone else, thankfully, does the layout. But invariably when I put out my call for articles, there are several people who simply never respond.

I get it. This request could be coming at a bad time. They might be, as my grandad said, up to their rear ends in alligators. But all they have to do is tell me NO. I can handle it. We’re all adults. I can handle hearing the word NO.

Recently my editor got back to me with so much feedback. So much! It took me a few days to muddle through it and see what she was saying. I had a deadline for the finished piece but she offered me a few more days to get the job done. I wasn’t sure I would need them, so I contacted her and said that. I contacted her before I managed to read through all the feedback. After all, I didn’t want to leave her hanging especially if I wanted a few more days.

Yesterday I realized that although I can now see what she wants, it is taking me time to regain my momentum. I’m having to reoutline and then get to work. Getting moving again is going oh-so-slowly. I wanted to say, “No, I don’t need the time.” But Tuesday morning I sent her an email. We went back and forth for a bit and settled on a new deadline.

You don’t have to do everything someone asks you to do. Whether it is critiquing a manuscript or taking part in a blog tour, it is perfectly reasonable to say NO.

But what if you want to do it but aren’t sure you can work it in your schedule. Then respond with that bit of information. Ask questions. Tell the person why you aren’t sure.

And if you want to do it but know that you can’t, not this time . . . can you guess what I’m going to say? Contact the person and let them know. The opportunity may come up again and you want to be on the top of the list.

The one response that is not okay, especially if you have a relationship with this person, is silence. Do not leave them hanging. Yes. No. Maybe. Later. They are all acceptable answers.


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