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Let Them Down Easy: 5 Tips to Say “No” in Your Independent Pharmacy

Let Them Down Easy: 5 Tips to Say “No” in Your Independent Pharmacy by Elements magazine |

March 16, 2016

As an independent community pharmacy owner, manager or pharmacist, you’re likely faced with frequent requests.

You probably say, “yes” to as many of your patients’ and partners’ requests as possible. But, if you’re asked for advice about a procedure outside your scope of practice, for a sizeable donation to a charity, or to attend an event you don’t have time for, you will occasionally have to say, “no” to these appeals.

Saying, “no” can be hard, and it’s even more difficult when you have to say, “no” to something that you wish you could say, “yes” to. You don’t want to close the door on future possibilities to work with partners or to serve your patients, but you also can’t say, “yes” to everything and risk overextending yourself.

Fortunately, you can decline a request and still maintain positive working relationships with key partners.

Use these tips for saying, “no,” nicely the next time you have to rebuff an invitation.

1. Be firm

When you have to say, “no,” make sure you’re resolved and clear.

If you waver back and forth, or give an answer that leaves room for interpretation, you risk confusing everyone involved. For example, if you’re asked to volunteer at a community health event, don’t just say you’ll have to check your calendar and get back to them. Instead, check immediately and let them know if you have another commitment that day.

Be clear and concise so everyone is on the same page.

2. Offer an alternative

If you can’t say, “yes” to the request, try to recommend an alternative, or suggest a different idea that works better for you.

For example, if you can’t volunteer for a health fair because of a previous commitment, offer to come to another event. Or, give the health fair organizers the name of one of your peers or coworkers who could help out instead.

Suggesting an alternative helps ensure that relationships with your partners remain positive, and the doors for future opportunities stay open.

3. Be honest

Be upfront and honest when you have to say, “no” to a partner or to a patient about why you can’t say, “yes” to their request.

If it’s an event you can’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, or if you can’t offer a patient a certain vaccine because your state board of pharmacy doesn’t allow it, be upfront and honest about the reason why you must say, “no.”

People will respect your decision if you’re honest with them, and they’ll be more likely to offer you another opportunity in the future if you tell the truth.

4. Explain why

Explaining why you can’t say, “yes” to a request can make declining much simpler and easier.

For example, if a high school club team asks you for a donation, let them know that donating to their team would mean you have to donate to every team that asks, and that you can’t afford to do that. Also, explain that you already support other community organizations and charities.

A brief explanation will help them understand your situation, and keep your relationship in good standing.

5. Say “thank you”

If you can’t say, “yes” to the offer right now, be sure to say “thank you” for the opportunity.

This small gesture of appreciation will keep you top-of-mind with patients and partners. That way, you’ll be their first call if another opportunity to work together arises, or if a patient needs a pharmacy service.

A few kind words of thanks can help make saying, “no,” much gentler.

Improve communication with your pharmacy’s partners to maintain and enhance business relationships.




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