There are often times in both business and interpersonal interactions where someone makes a request of you. A customer asking for a refund or a discount are two examples. When these requests are made, we often respond with something like, “sorry, no, I can’t.” However, in most of those situations, we are not being truthful.
How are we not being truthful? Well, it’s because we say “I can’t” when we actually mean “I won’t.” We all do it from time to time. Why do we do it? Because it’s the easy way out. “I can’t” implies that there is some barrier in the way, thus making the request impossible. We use it in the hopes that it will shut down the requester. However, in how many instances is there actually a barrier preventing the honoring of the request? I would argue not many at all.
So, in these situations, consider using “I won’t.” It’s more truthful and less dismissive. Customers won’t necessarily be happy, but they’ll know you have standards. And that is not a bad thing.