Social media has opened up the boundaries of communication — and generally, that’s a good thing except when it isn’t. One of the rather irksome features is you get all sorts of pushy requests in a very public forum. Requests that maybe you would prefer to ignore.
Often what I see happening is the recipient of the public request complies despite reservations because it is happening in such a public forum. Call it politeness, blame peer pressure…whatever the reason, you need to trust your instincts and if your gut tells you to say “No”, it’s okay to just say “No”.
How to Tactfully, But Firmly Decline a Public Request
#1: Establish the Rules — Sit down and consider what you are and aren’t comfortable with. Are you okay with people using your photos if they include a photo credit? What about republishing your content? How do you feel about them using your profile photo on their promotional materials? These are just a few of the requests that come up frequently in social media.
#2: Always Respond — Unless it’s an obvious spammer who is blanketing the socialsphere with their request, take the time to respond so that person doesn’t proceed anyway. Be clear about your answer to avoid the inevitable “I thought it was okay with you” excuse you will get later.
#3: Be Polite — Don’t voice your frustration. As much as you would like to blast the requester for making such an annoying ask, just respond with your “Yes” or “No” answer and leave it at that. If they become a nuisance, it’s still better to take other steps, like blocking or muting them, before exchanging words with them. Screen caps don’t always capture the entire conversation. #justsayin
#4: Never EVER Say Maybe — If you mean to say “No”, just say “No” and be done with it. Saying “Maybe” to begin with makes it harder to say “No” later.
#5: Give Other Options — Offer an alternative to their request that better suits you. For example, let the blogger who wishes to republish your post know that it’s not okay to copy your content in its entirety, but you are fine with them excerpting the post and linking back to your original.
#6: Be Consistent — Remember that it is a public forum so try to stick with the same set of rules for everyone.
#7: Don’t Justify — Don’t feel you need to give a reason. Your reasons are yours and it’s your sandbox and you make the rules…so if you don’t feel like sharing the reason, that’s okay. Saying “No” is enough.