Home Apologize How to apologize for the inability to do something 

How to apologize for the inability to do something 

How to apologize for the inability to do something 

“As much as I would like to help you, I’m not in a position to offer you any assistance.”

“I’m sorry, <Name> I’d love to help out, but my calendar is booked that day.”

“Thank you for thinking of me for this project. Unfortunately, my team and I are at capacity and wouldn’t be able to start your project until the beginning of next year.”

See also:

  • 🙅🏼‍♀️ How to apologize for something outside of your control
  • ⛔ How to set boundaries

Start Here

  • CONGRATULATIONS, you legend, you! You know your boundaries, and you’re ready to express them.
  • Depending on the request and who is asking, declining requests can come in all forms: email, text, phone, LinkedIn message, or carrier pigeon.
    • Reasonable requests deserve respectful refusals.
    • Requests from bosses and authority figures (even unreasonable ones) require a very careful, detailed, logic-based response.
    • Unreasonable requests are often not worth the dignity or time of a response.
  • Not everyone deserves an explanation of why you can’t do something for them.
  • If possible and appropriate, offer an alternative. Showing someone you’re making an effort to meet them halfway is a great goodwill builder.

Talking Points

  • Hello <Name>, I’m terribly sorry, but I cannot do what you ask.
  • I know you really want me to <describe what they want from you>.
  • Unfortunately, I’m unable to do that because <a very high-level description of why you can’t do it. Unless this is a boss or client, in which case, be prepared to offer a more in-depth explanation>.
  • What I can offer/ what I can do is <description of alternative>. How does that sound?


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