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Nov 20, 2023

How to write polite rejection emails (14 examples), and how AI can help

Sophia Seltenreich

Sophia Seltenreich

6 min read


In the words of Tim Ferris, "what you don’t do determines what you can do." But how do you turn down an offer or request without burning bridges? The answer lies in the art of crafting a polite and effective rejection email. It's not just about turning down an offer or request, but doing it in a way that maintains respect and goodwill.

In this post, I’ll walk you through how to craft an empathetic and effective rejection email by reviewing general guidelines, specific examples, and ways to speed up this workflow with the help of an AI Assistant.

General tips for writing a polite rejection

When writing a polite rejection, it's crucial to be clear and concise. Keep your message short and to the point, ensuring the recipient understands the rejection without having to read between the lines. While it's important to be empathetic, maintaining a professional tone is key to ensuring your message is taken seriously and respect between both parties is maintained.

If it's appropriate and you're comfortable doing so, providing a reason for the rejection can also help the recipient understand your decision. You should say something so you don't sound impersonal, but don't overshare as that could invite a conversation you don't want.

Always express gratitude for the recipient’s time, effort, or consideration, showing that you value their input and appreciate their understanding. Try to end the email on a positive note with a polite closing while looking forward to future interactions.

14 examples of polite rejection emails

Rejecting a candidate

When rejecting a job application, it's crucial to maintain a balance between brevity and empathy. Even if a candidate isn't the right fit at the moment, a thoughtful response can enhance your company's reputation and potentially attract more suitable applicants in the future.

1. Rejecting a candidate after an interview

Hi [Candidate's Name],

Thank you for your interest in the [Job Title] position and the time you invested in this interview process. After careful consideration, we have decided to proceed with another candidate who more closely fits our current needs.

While your technical skills were strong, we felt that another candidate had more experience in [specific area]. Please know that this decision does not reflect negatively on your qualifications or experience. We encourage you to apply for future positions with us that align with your skills and interests.


[Your Name]

2. Rejecting a candidate without an interview

Hi [Candidate's Name],

Thank you for taking the time to apply to [Company Name].

We know how much work goes into preparing a resume and how important the decision is to submit it for consideration. Although you have an impressive background, we've decided not to move forward at this time. But we hope you won't mind if we reach out to you in the future if a position opens up that we think may be a great fit and interests you.

Best wishes in your job search.

— [Your Name]

Declining a meeting

Sometimes, our schedules are just too packed. When declining a meeting, offer a brief reason and, if possible, suggest an alternative time. This shows respect for the other person's time and maintains the relationship.

3. Declining a meeting due to a scheduling conflict

Hey [Recipient's Name],

Just checked my schedule and it looks like I have something else lined up at the same time as our proposed meeting.

Would it be possible to find another slot? I'm typically free on [ask AI to insert available days and times here].

Thanks for being flexible!

— [Your Name]

4. Declining a meeting due to lack of relevance

Hi [Recipient's Name],

Thanks for the invite to the meeting. After reviewing the agenda, it seems like the topics being discussed might not be directly relevant to my current projects.

I want to make sure everyone's time is used effectively, so I think it might be best if I sit this one out. But please do keep me in the loop if anything comes up that you think I should be aware of.

Thanks for understanding.

— [Your Name]

Saying no to an investor

Turning down an investor can be tricky. Be honest about your reasons, but also express gratitude for their interest. This keeps the door open for future opportunities.

5. Politely declining an investment offer

Hey [Recipient's Name],

I really appreciate the time and effort you've put into considering an investment in our venture. After careful consideration, I've decided that it might not be the right fit for us at this moment.

This decision doesn't reflect the value I see in your partnership. It's more about the specific terms and timing. I hope this doesn't discourage future conversations and potential collaborations.

Thanks again for considering us and for your understanding.


[Your Name]

6. Rejecting a follow-up meeting with a potential investor

Hey [Recipient's Name],

Thank you for reaching out and for the offer to meet again. I've given it some thought and at this point in time, I believe it's best for us to focus our efforts on our current projects and strategies.

While I appreciate the potential opportunity, I don't think a follow-up meeting would be the best use of our time right now.

I hope this doesn't discourage future conversations when the timing and circumstances might be more aligned with our goals.

Thanks again for your understanding.


[Your Name]

Rejecting a business proposal

When rejecting a business proposal, such as a partnership proposal or a pitch from a vendor, it's important to communicate clearly and respectfully to maintain a positive relationship.

7. Declining a partnership proposal

Hi [Recipient's Name],

Thank you for your partnership proposal. After careful consideration, we've decided not to proceed at this time. This decision is based on our current strategic focus and is not a reflection of the value of your proposal or company.

We appreciate your understanding and hope to explore potential collaborations in the future when our objectives align more closely.


[Your Name]

8. Saying no to a vendor or service provider

Hi [Vendor's Name],

Thank you for taking the time to present your services to us. After reviewing your proposal with the broader team we've decided not to proceed with your services at this time.

While we can see [Vendor’s Company]’s value, this decision aligns with our current needs and strategic direction. We appreciate your understanding and will certainly keep you in mind for future needs.


[Your Name]

Declining a job offer

Receiving a job offer is often flattering, but sometimes the role or company just isn't the right fit. When declining an offer, be gracious and express your appreciation, but explain why it's not the right fit for you.

9. Politely declining a job offer from a potential employer

Dear [Employer’s Name],

Thanks so much for considering me for the role. I sincerely appreciate the offer to be a part of your team.

After careful consideration, I have decided to pursue a different opportunity that aligns more closely with my career goals. This was not an easy decision to make, as I hold your [Company Name] in high regard.

I appreciate the time and effort you invested in this process and wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect person for this role.

Thanks again,

[Your Name]

10. Rejecting a job offer after accepting another

Dear [Employer’s Name],

I wanted to say thank you for the offer and for considering me for your team. It genuinely means a lot.

Unfortunately, I've accepted another offer that aligns more closely with where I see myself going in my career.

I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause and appreciate all the time you've put into this process. I wish [Company Name] the best of luck in finding the perfect person to join your team.

Thanks again,

[Your Name]

Saying no to a client request

Dealing with client requests can be a delicate situation, but you should aim to craft responses that balance firmness and politeness, effectively communicating your limits to a client while maintaining a positive brand image and relationship.

11. Declining a client's unrealistic request

Hey [Client's Name],

I just wanted to follow up about the request you sent over.

After reviewing with the team, we've concluded that we're unable to fulfill your request at this time. We understand the importance of this request to you, and it was not an easy decision to make.

Our goal is to ensure the highest quality of service and deliverables for our clients. In this case, we believe that the current request may compromise our ability to maintain the standards we've set, and we only want you to have the best.

We appreciate your understanding and are still open to brainstorming other ways to meet your needs. Feel free to throw any other ideas our way!


[Your Name]

12. Saying no to a client's request for a discount

Hi [Client's Name],

Thank you for checking out [Your Product] and taking the time to contact us.

While we really appreciate your interest, unfortunately we are unable to offer further discounts at this time. Our current pricing reflects the value, expertise, and time that goes into building [Your Product].

We understand that budget constraints can be challenging, and our team is exploring ways to better support a wider range of folks in the future. We’ll let you know if there’s any update on this.

Thanks for your understanding.

— [Your Name]

Rejecting a request for a favor

When rejecting a request, it's crucial to handle such situations with tact and respect, as they often occur in professional relationships where maintaining positive rapport is essential. Balancing the need to protect your own time and resources while considering others' needs can be challenging. It’s important to write a polite and empathetic email that still respects your personal boundaries.

13. Saying no to a personal favor from a colleague

Hey [Colleague's Name],

Thanks for reaching out about this, I’m flattered you thought of me!

Unfortunately, I'm swamped with my current workload and won't be able to help out this time. It's not that I don't want to, it's just about juggling everything already on my plate right now.

I’d recommend syncing with [other colleague] to see who else on the team who might be able to step in.

Best of luck,

[Your Name]

14. Declining a request to volunteer for an extra task

Hi [Requester's Name],

Thank you for considering me for this work. I'm all for taking on new challenges and helping the team.

However, after reviewing the scope of this further, I'm actually going to pass on taking this work on. I've got a lot on my plate with my current projects and in the interest of the company, I really need to focus on getting them across the finish line.

I'm definitely up for discussing other ways I can contribute more in the future.

Thanks for understanding.

— [Your Name]

Streamlining your workflow with an AI Assistant

Does the thought of crafting individual rejection emails start to make you anxious? You're not alone. But here's the good news: Shortwave’s AI Assistant can do much of the work for you when given the right prompt. Let's look at how AI can save you time and mental energy and make the process of writing rejection emails less daunting.

Personalize at scale: AI can help you personalize your rejection emails at scale. It can automatically insert the recipient's name, the position they applied for, and other relevant details, making each rejection email feel personal and considerate.

Prompt: reply with a personalized rejection for this role

Provide constructive feedback: AI can help you provide constructive feedback to the candidates, making the rejection more helpful for future pitches, proposals, and applications.

Prompt: reject this proposal and include feedback based on the discussion notes last week

Communicate consistently: With AI, you can ensure that all your rejection emails are consistent in tone and content. This can help maintain your company's professional image.

Prompt: politely decline this meeting but suggest another time to meet next month

The more you use Shortwave’s AI Assistant, the better it gets. It learns from your preferences and continually improves its suggestions based on your writing and communication style, making your job even easier over time!

Saying “no” nicely with AI

Mastering the art of saying "no" nicely is important in maintaining healthy work relationships. It's not just about turning down a request, it's about doing it in a way that respects the other person's time and effort.

Shortwave is the best email app for handling these delicate replies because the AI Assistant will ensure your email is clear, polite, and professional. It's like having an executive assistant who understands the nuances of communication and can draft personalized replies in your writing style.

Use the examples provided in this blog post as a starting point and adapt them to your specific needs with the help of our AI Assistant. In doing so, you can ensure every email you send is clear, empathetic, and an opportunity to build stronger professional relationships.

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