How to say ‘No’ in a Pakistani Work Culture: By Erum Javeria

How to say ‘No’ in a Pakistani Work Culture: By Erum Javeria


In Pakistan, maintaining healthy relationships with others is highly valued, and this cultural value has an impact on how people respond to requests.

Unlike Western cultures and individual societies where saying “no” is typically more acceptable and forthright, where people typically emphasize open communication and personal autonomy, a direct “no” in response to a request in Pakistan is frequently regarded as unfriendly or disrespectful.

The cultural values of preserving social harmony and averting conflict are at the foundation of the use of indirect communication and courteous refusals. To avoid embarrassing or disappointing others, it is vital to be aware of their sentiments.

Especially in organizations and the workforce, people work extra hours when asked to and even end up doing labor that was not part of their job description to prevent upsetting or making the requester uncomfortable. This becomes worse when Pakistanis go to another country and end up staying late doing personal chores for other heads and CEOs without any extra salary. Once they say yes to something, it is expected of them to always say yes, and when they don’t, they are considered lazy and not interested in work.

As the habit of not saying “no” is costing Pakistani people unhealthy working hours and workloads, let me walk you through a guide that can help you say “no” without feeling guilty or making others feel bad about it.




1.  Show interest first: Never say no to posing an image that you would have done if you weren’t preoccupied with other tasks. Instead, show curiosity. Start by expressing your gratitude for the chance or your sincere interest in the request. This makes it clear that you value the speaker and what they have to say.

For example:

  • “I appreciate you considering me. I value your proposal or chance.
  • “I’m delighted you got in touch with me. This project sounds exciting.


2. Give a valid explanation, not an excuse. Demonstrate to your manager that you are not refusing assistance because you don’t want to, but rather that you are unable to do so due to a variety of factors.

For example:

  • At that moment, I have other responsibilities.
  • I have too many obligations already, so I can’t take on more.


3. Using nice words: Instead of just saying “no,” some people choose to use polite words to deny a request.

For example:

  • “My apologies, but I won’t be able to do it.”
  • “I appreciate your request, but I’m sorry I’m unable to assist you with that.”


4. Continue to show interest or support: Reiterate your desire or willingness to work together in the future to close out your response. This keeps the conversation upbeat and demonstrates that your refusal is not indicative of a lack of enthusiasm for the other person or their endeavors.

For example:

  • “Thank you for considering me for any upcoming chances. I really want to know what you’re working on.
  • “I sincerely hope that the event is a success and am eager to learn more about it. In the future, don’t hesitate to contact me.


5. Don’t say no; provide them with an alternative. If you say yes instantly every time, they will make it a habit, and then it will be expected of you to always say yes, so even if you think that saying “no” is not an option, suggest to them a date when you can do that task without overworking yourself.



Verbal Intelligence:

For the practical implementation of all these examples verbal intelligence is essential when saying “no” since it enables you to respectfully navigate potentially difficult conversations while maintaining relationships, properly explain your refusal, and continue respectful interactions.

You may explain your ideas and objectives more clearly when you have verbal intelligence. To prevent misconceptions or ambiguity while expressing “no,” it’s crucial to be succinct and clear. You can communicate your point effectively and assertively by using the appropriate words, tone, and speaking style.

Even after saying “no,” verbal intelligence enables you to continue healthy relationships. It enables you to refuse in a way that has the least negative effect on the partnership and prevents hostility or resentment from developing. You can show that you are willing to have an open discussion and look for different methods to help and work with the other person in the future by utilizing verbal intelligence to communicate clearly.





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