Saying “no” carries a significant stigma in our society. This is especially true in our profession, where our mission is to help others. Yet, there is a point where we need to realize that saying yes to every request is a recipe for exhaustion, overwhelm, and burnout.

Here are 3 tips to say no gracefully.

1. Don’t lie

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that because my brother-in-law’s second cousin twice removed was in an earthquake.”

Don’t make stuff up. It’s OK to say no, but it’s not OK to destroy the trust someone has in you.

You then need to decide when to provide a reason, and when not to.

2. Explain the reason why

Simply explain why you can’t fulfill the request.

Examples include:

. I don’t have the necessary knowledge or experience

. I already have another commitment at that time

. I ethically cannot accept this request

. I can’t stay late on Tuesdays because my child has an after-school activity

. I need to visit my Dad in the hospital

. My hedgehog needs insulin (this better be true!).

There are legitimate, non-negotiable situations where your own needs have to come first.

No 2

3. Don’t explain the reason why

Then there are times when you don’t need to get lost in details.

You don’t have to disclose that you need a colonoscopy, a mammogram, or a giant pimple popped.

You could keep it vague and say that you have a doctor’s appointment.

Again, don’t lie, as you may need to prove that it was true by showing a doctor’s note.

Saying “no” is an art form; it takes time and practice to perfect your toolkit.

Regardless of how you say it, do it politely, firmly, and honestly.

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