In other professions, saying “no” is reportedly the secret to success, the foundation of sanity, and the recipe for happiness.

Meanwhile in vet med, saying no seems to be a huge no-no (pun intended).

Following our 2 previous blogs (How to say no (part 1) and How to say no (part 2)), here are 4 more options to say no with grace…

7. Offer a solution

Pretend you’re a nurse. You are taking X-rays. One of your doctors asks if you can hold a patient during their exam. You look over the doctor’s shoulder to see a few of your coworkers doing busy work. Instead of declining the request, gently say, “I’m in the middle of taking X-rays right now. It looks like Stephanie would be able to help you right away.”

If you cannot do something for someone, you can still help them find a more logical solution.

8. Negotiation

Pretend you’re an associate. You are asked to see Ms. Jones in room two. Yet, you already have six pressing things to do. Instead of saying no, try to negotiate: “I can see Ms. Jones if you can call Mr. Smith about his dog’s culture results and call the lab to ask which antibiotic we should choose.”

This takes the sting out of saying no, while providing a productive solution that solves everyone’s needs.

9. Stick to your priorities

You are invited to a charity dinner (a bargain: only $500 for a vegan dinner). You are asked to sit on the board of the local shelter. You are offered to join the parent-teachers’ association.

Rather than adding to your overwhelmed schedule, borrow from my repertoire and reply:

“Dear Sophie, Thank you so much for this invitation. I’m truly flattered! Unfortunately, I’ve got my priorities set for the year and this just doesn’t fit in. Again, thanks for thinking of me.”

10. Be bluntly honest

Veterinarian professionals are asked to participate in surveys, research projects, panel discussions, dinner presentations, and so much more. If you need to decline, you can borrow from our secret collection of canned answers.

Simply reply: “Hi Joe, I am completely overwhelmed and regret I will not have enough time for this exciting project. Thank you so much for thinking of me.”


“Hello Joe, I must admit I’m feeling completely swamped at the moment. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to dedicate enough time to this exhilarating project. I sincerely appreciate you considering me for it.”


“Hey Joe, to be honest with you, I’m feeling utterly inundated right now. Regrettably, I won’t be able to allocate sufficient time to this captivating project. I genuinely appreciate your thoughtfulness in considering me.”

Everybody does not need instant access to you all the time. Decide which boundaries you need to preserve your sanity. Then learn to say no, politely, firmly, and respectfully.

If you would like to learn how Chronos can help you and your team regain time and sanity, please reach out to us. Simply click on the Discovery Call button above or visit

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free certified

Co-Founder of Chronos