Asking for a ride is something that’s common today. However, it’s a bit difficult to say no for many people, especially if the person asking for the ride is someone you know quite well. So, the big question is how you should say no to someone asking for a ride.
To successfully decline the request for a ride, politely but firmly state a reason, which must be reasonable but not too detailed. It is sufficient, for example, to say that you will be visiting someone on the way or that you will be at work longer.
Who Are You Responding To?
The first thing to consider is the person asking for a ride. The person you’re saying no to determines how you respond. We can categorize them into two. It can either be someone you know or a stranger.
Someone You Know
If you’re saying no to someone you know, the conversation will be much easier. It can even be friendly, considering that this is someone you’re used to.
For example, you could be leaving your workplace and then a colleague asks you for a ride. After assessing your situation, you find out that you’re not able to offer a ride to your colleague.
Since this is someone you know well, you won’t have a problem responding to him because you know how to approach the issue. You can go ahead and say something like:
“Am sorry buddy. I would have loved to give you a ride home but, unfortunately, it won’t be possible today.”
As you can see, the conversation here is between people who know each other well. There is no tension between you and the person asking for a ride. In such a situation, you don’t have to wonder why the person is asking for a ride.
If the person asking for a ride is a stranger, the conversation will be a bit different. While you can agree to give a ride to a stranger, chances are you may decline. So, how do you say no?
In this situation, you may be stuck in a traffic jam, and someone you don’t know approaches you for a ride. Since this is someone you don’t know, the first thing that comes to your mind is why he is asking for the ride. That’s why one is highly likely to say no to a stranger.
Since there’s not much you can talk about with the person, you can say something like:
“Not today sir. Am sorry. I hope you get the help you need.”
Don’t feel sorry for declining to offer a ride to a stranger. You have every right to say no. Just be polite as you communicate with the person.
Body Language to Use
The body language you use when communicating carries a great deal of significance. As you say no to someone asking for a ride, it’s important to consider your body language. Body language communicates volumes.
What you don’t say by words you say through your body language. These are the body language tactics you should put into consideration when saying no to someone asking for a ride:
You should be confident as you communicate. Confidence is key if you have to communicate effectively. Confident speakers don’t leave room for contrary interpretations of statements since they are sure of what they are saying.
According to a 2018 article by the Harvard Business Review, confidence is not only exhibited in the way you use your words but also in the way you use your body during conversations. 
For example, make sure you don’t shrink your body when saying no. Saying no to someone can be a tough thing for many people especially if you’re declining a request from a friend.
Instead of shrinking your body, make sure you’re upright. This is a great way of showing confidence. Once you show someone that you’re confident as you say no to a ride, they will get the message clearly.
If you show a lack of confidence, the person may keep on insisting and you may end up getting offended. So, say your no with confidence!
Look the Person Straight in the Eyes
Another body language you should demonstrate is looking at the person you’re talking to in the eyes. However, don’t make it awkward as you do so.
The idea isn’t to gaze at the eyes but to show your interest in the conversation. Whether you’re saying yes or no to the person, it’s prudent to look at them as it shows courtesy. It will show that your no is sincere.
If you say no to someone asking for a ride while looking away from them, this could be interpreted as rudeness. It is more polite to engage the person face-to-face if you can, so as to show your interest in the request. You don’t have to look at the person when you’re saying yes to his request.
Also, remember that you don’t have an obligation to give the person a ride. So, don’t feel sorry for facing the person as you decline the humble request. The person asking for the ride will appreciate the gesture to show interest in his request.
How to Say No
Be Firm in Your Language
Being firm in your language means that you should be assertive as you say no to the person. Being assertive means that you’re sure of what you’re saying and why you’re saying it. You have to say whatever you’re saying without feeling sorry about it.
Don’t speak in a way that leaves the person wondering whether you’re agreed or declined to offer him a ride.
For example, avoid using statements like: “I don’t know whether I’ll be able to give you a ride today.”
This statement shows that you’re not assertive enough. Though you may be saying no inside you, it doesn’t come out quite well. The person will not know whether you’re saying yes or no.
You should use statements like:
“I won’t be in a position to give you a ride today. I’ll head to town first then head home later.”
In this statement, it is quite clear what you’re saying. The person will understand clearly that you’ve said no to the request.
You also need to be polite as you respond to the person asking for a ride. Just because you’re saying no to a request doesn’t mean that you are rude to the person. You can still respond nicely even when you’re declining the request.
If you can, avoid saying an outright no. Instead, you can answer with a statement showing that you can’t offer the ride at that particular moment.
When someone requests you to give them a ride after work, you can say no politely as it is in this statement:
“Unfortunately, I won’t be available in the afternoon. Am sorry I won’t be in a position to give you a ride.”
This is a polite way of saying no.
Many people might associate saying no with negativity. But, saying no doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. It simply means it’s not possible. So, avoid a negative attitude as you say no to someone asking for a ride.
Your answer should be a polite no’ without shouting at anyone.
This will show that you’re a respectful person and that declining the request won’t look like rudeness or arrogance.
If Possible Give the Reason for Saying No
It will be good to let the person asking for a ride why you have said no. For some people, saying no isn’t enough, especially the people close to you. Imagine telling your uncle that you can’t give him a ride and stopping at that. He may not take it lightly.
It’s prudent to go further and tell someone why you have said no to their request for a ride.
You can say something like this:
“I can’t give you a ride today because I’ll be working late. I have a long project am working on and won’t be through by 8 pm.”
This statement is complete enough for the person to know it’s not possible to get a ride. The person will appreciate the action to explain why it’s not possible to have the ride.
Use the Right Tone
As you say no to someone asking for a ride, be sure to use the right tone. Avoid using a rude tone. A harsh tone will bring you out in a bad way that may damage your relationship with the person asking for a ride. Use a cordial tone and it shall be well.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.