No. Two letters that end up creating a world of chaos. If you tell a customer “No”, there’s a good chance they’re going to a different provider, escalate a ticket, or talk to your manager. None of those options are ideal. So here are some options when you need to say no, without actually saying no.

“This could be a future option.”

“It’s not possible in our current state.”

“Let’s discuss this at a later date.”

“This isn’t feasible at this time.”

“We don’t have the headcount to accomplish this.” or another alternative to this one is “There isn’t enough man hours to complete this at the moment.”

“This was deprioritized.”

“We’ll need to revisit this.”

“This isn’t ideal for our environment.”

A project management fave: “Let’s table that for now.”

Software developers fave: “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

And then there’s always this option, “We’ll require a change order and a budget increase”.

Or if you really have to say no, go Canadian with “No no.” It’s much cuter when it’s doubled up.

If you’re finding that these options just aren’t working for you, perhaps it’s time for us to table this discussion and move on to the next topic.