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I have a colleague that asked me for a ride home once because he had to get home in a hurry, so I gave him a lift. Now yesterday he asked for a ride home again, and while I did give him a lift, I decided it's the last time.

(Generally, I don't like driving people around, and on top of that this guy is a bit disrespectful in that he does things like slamming the door, getting fingerprints on the windows, stepping all over the frame while getting in/out, etc.)

So, given that we work together, what's the best way to tell him no, next time he asks? I'm not afraid of saying no; in fact if anything I have a tendency to err on the side of being too blunt.

However, given that we work together, I'd like to decline his request in a tactful manner, so is there a better response than my natural reaction of telling him to "walk, get a taxi, or buy your own car" ?

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For my better understanding for the question, is the reason for declining the request due to your colleague disrespectful behavior, or something else? – tehnyit Jul 1 '14 at 9:51
Primarily I don't want to fall into a pattern of being the guy that drives him home. The other stuff (door slamming, etc.) makes me not want to do it at all, not even occasionally. – CaptainCodeman Jul 1 '14 at 10:02
Does his need to be given a lift home have anything to do with work? In my opinion, there's a huge difference between "it's raining, so i don't want to walk, please give me a lift" and "My last bus is leaving now, but i'd like to finally fix that problem that has been bothering the team for two weeks, can someone drive me home if i stay for another two hours?" – Guntram Blohm Jul 1 '14 at 17:23
Just say "I can't just give you a lift whenever you ask, I have my own business to attend to". He is a grown man, he shouldn't rely on others for this type of things. – what is sleep Jul 11 '14 at 16:54
I would just tell him that you go to the gym after work every day and that it's not convenient – amphibient Nov 5 '14 at 23:02
up vote 60 down vote accepted

I'd recommend a polite refusal without any room for argument: "I'm sorry, that doesn't work for me tonight." If this brings follow-up questions, e.g. "why?", or complaints, e.g. "But it's not that far out of your way", then you just repeat "I'm sorry, it doesn't work for me."

You do not need to give a reason. "No." is a complete sentence. The coworker may well get upset, but there is literally not a single word that they can object to. They have nothing to argue against, no way of explaining that you are able to do what they want because Reasons.

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Yep, we tend to attach a whole lot of meaning to 'No' when we are on the receiving end, but it's just a 'No'. – Jan Doggen Jul 1 '14 at 15:07
My only issue with this solution is that the "no" is associated with a time ("tonight"), so the "no" expires. If you want a "no" that doesn't expire (which it sounds like the OP wants), don't associate it with a time. Otherwise, they might say "okay" but then just ask again the next day. – Cornstalks Jul 1 '14 at 16:03
+1 for: "No." is a complete sentence. Made me grin. – Spike0xff Jul 1 '14 at 20:15
@Spike0xff Hat-tip to for that one :-) – Jenny D Jul 2 '14 at 6:53

"Sorry, it's nothing personal, but I prefer to drive home alone."

The OP wants to kill this without hurting the relationship. The OP isn't afraid to be direct. The answer is direct but "tactful enough".

If the colleague presses the issue, just offer the non-personal reason, since that's more tactful and anyway the primary reason. For me it would be "It's the only time during the day I get to be alone and veg out" and I suspect for a lot of other introverts the reason is precisely the same.

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I wouldn't really veg out when behind the wheel, it doesn't sound safe, but I get your point. – Formagella Dec 11 '14 at 12:47

You mentioned that you don't mind saying no. Then say no. I get this at my workplace as well. I gave a male colleague of mine a ride home one time and after that, he would keep asking. So I politely told him no, and said that this is the only time that I get to myself to de-stress from work and I'd like to keep it that way. We had a bit of a laugh about it (the stress of work) and he was fine. I then occasionally offer to give him a lift home if the weather is shitty but he has never asked for it proactively again.

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I'd like to add another answer as someone who does have a difficult time saying "No." Rather than turning someone down, I would more likely give them a ride the next time they ask but say, "But this is the last time." This way I don't feel guilty by turning them down, but I prevent them from asking in the future. If they press you on the reason, you can tell them whatever you like - for me personally it's having that alone/decompress time on the ride back. Whenever you drop the person off, you could even add a "Good luck with getting your car fixed," or whatever fits your situation.

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I have a feeling that the "this is the last time" will be old news, come next time. What do you do if he asks again? – CaptainCodeman Jul 1 '14 at 12:40
At that point I wouldn't feel bad just telling him No. The problem that I (personally) would have saying No without warning him ahead of time is that he may be (wrongly) depending on your ride to get him somewhere. You have every right to decline without warning - it's just my personal guilt factor coming into play. – David K Jul 1 '14 at 14:04

I assume you'd like not only to refuse the next time he asks but also stop him from asking again. That's why in my opinion excuses like being busy won't do. I mean since the guy is being disrespectful he might not get the hint.

Next time he asks you can just say "sorry I can't" and then politely suggest "but you can take a taxi over there".

Since you two work together it's even more important for the guy to know he shouldn't use you or anyone else for that matter. It's likely that this kind of behaviour won't be limited only to someone driving him home.

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"I'm sorry. I have other commitments to take care of tonight and so I'm unavailable to give you a lift." would be one of a few ways I'd phrase my response that says no with enough explanation that the guy shouldn't push things.

The key is that you likely do have plans that you want to get done and so being this person's taxi service is what you have to decline though I'd think having some explanation is handy though "No" can be a sentence unto itself.

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Explanation does not necessarily help, when refusing something. Explanation of why you are refusing just encourages the other person to push harder, sometimes. Much better to just say "Sorry, not tonight". Rinse and repeat until he stops asking. – Alnitak Jul 1 '14 at 9:37
"Cheap excuses" can cause a lot of trouble. You give a cheap excuse. Next day the person asks you for a ride again. You give another excuse. Two weeks later the person is utterly convinced that you are an untrustworthy person who is lying all the time and who cannot be believed under any circumstances, while just saying the truth that you don't want to give them a lift would have avoided all of that. – gnasher729 Jul 1 '14 at 12:58
Comments removed. Take extended conversations and tangents to The Workplace Chat please. Also, remember to be nice. – Monica Cellio Jul 1 '14 at 15:41

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