I am possessive about nearly all my things.
I do not want to lend my camera/headphone to anyone since they are delicate items.

My boss and peers know what gadgets I have and they tend to ask me to lend them the same for some hours or days. I do NOT wish to lend them any of my gadgets for any reason.
They are my property bought from my hard earned money.

How should I tell them no without sounding rude?

  • "I need them during that time. Sorry".
    – Oded
    Feb 6, 2013 at 10:14
  • @Oded HA! won't they tell - okay give them to me on the day when you don't need them! Feb 6, 2013 at 10:16
  • 3
    Except from plainly saying no? Those are your possessions - it is not rude to tell someone that. "Sorry, but you can't. I do not want to share them. If you want a camera/headphones/whatever, buy some.".
    – Oded
    Feb 6, 2013 at 11:11
  • 15
    I'm guessing this is a cultural thing. Where I come from, there is no implied obligation to let people borrow your stuff just because you have them and they want to, and just saying "no" would not be rude and really wouldn't require any further qualification. In fact, it would be considered rude and presumptive to ask to borrow something and just assume the answer would be "yes". As such, it's hard at least for me to give an answer that works in your cultural context.
    – pap
    Feb 6, 2013 at 11:57
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    In which case, tell your boss to buy his own stuff. If you're not comfortable doing that, not bringing them into the office for awhile might break him of the habit.
    – Blrfl
    Feb 6, 2013 at 14:17

4 Answers 4


"Sorry I don't know when I will need it next, you can get a good cheap one from XXX though"

"Sorry I use this/these a lot"

"No, sorry, I like to keep these things with me just so I know where they are / don't lose them"

"It's nothing personal, I just don't feel comfortable lending out my XX"

Alternatively like you said in a comment, if you don't need these things don't bring them into work, they can't borrow what isn't there. If you bring them in to work because you do need them then you can reply with "Sorry, but I need it".

The main point is to stay polite and respectful. But remember they are your things and you do have a right to say "No", just try not to be rude to your peers in the process!

Sometimes just saying "No, sorry" will work brilliantly, they can't formulate an argument against why youre saying no if you don't give a reason for it. This can be seen more as rude though, so be wary.

Some people will always think it's rude if you say no. No matter how you say it, there are lots of people who think they are entitled to everything they want when they want it, and they will take even the politest of no's as a personal attack.

For these people there is nothing you can say that won't be taken as rude. So sometimes you do just need to be firm and say no (still politely) and more importantly don't feel you have to give in to the pressure from these types of people.

Giving in might be the easiest option at the time just so they aren't angry, but then you will have the situation where people will wonder why he is the special case. Why do you lend your stuff to him but not to the rest of them etc.

So, stay firm, give a polite decline, and continue with your day, after all, you have a job to do.

  • I would personally be a little wary of the first suggestion (although polite) as this may simply be deferring the issue - your boss might say "well you're not using it now, so gimme".
    – Dibstar
    Feb 6, 2013 at 16:12
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    I would avoid the issue altogether and simply state "sorry, I don't loan my property out to anyone, nothing personal." If you've already let people borrow your things before this is a little harder to maintain but regardless, this is your personal property and you are under no obligation. In some situations, there is no way to avoid coming off as rude, especially if the other party is already being rude without realising it themselves.
    – Cronax
    Mar 11, 2015 at 12:09
  • Hmm, I never had to explain myself. I just say "Sorry" and most of the time that's it. When someone then tries to justify it, I raise one of my eyebrows and repeat myself.
    – Nelson
    Aug 29, 2017 at 4:34
  • "Look, I don't loan my stuff. I like you and I want to keep liking you. The last person I let borrow something broke it and even though they eventually replaced it, I was still angry and it bothers me everytime I see them, they're always going to be "the jerkface that broke my stuff" and even though I know they didn't do it on purpose, I also know they could have avoided making me angry by getting their own stuff. So, the answer is "No", because I like you."
    – DLS3141
    Aug 30, 2017 at 16:48

Are these "gadgets" with you at work?

If so, why do you bring them there? Are they for your job? If not - don't bring them to work.

In Gurgaon India and more specifically at your work, do most people freely lend gadgets to each other? Are you are the only one that doesn't like to? If such is the case, maybe you can learn to lend your items as long as you are not using them...

If this is an isolated situation and a more general problem of not being able to say NO remember this; it is how you say NO that matters more than anything. Are you crabby, dark and irritated?

If so, try this: With positive energy, a smile, and still caring for the other person, simply say "sorry I do lend those out but hope you find a pair." Here your tone says thanks fr respecting that, we are still friends if you want to be, and I'm ready to focus on work with you.

You are being honest, not making up lies, feeling good about how you responded, and happy that Vipul's ear wax is not on your headphones!

  • 2
    I have my own wireless headphones at work that if someone asked to borrow I would say no. I should be able to bring in my own productivity enhancements with being expected to share.
    – Neo
    Aug 28, 2017 at 18:29
  • Why bring them to work? Maybe I bring my camera because I like to take pictures on my daily commute. And my headphones because I listen to my music instead of the yowling children on the bus.
    – DLS3141
    Aug 30, 2017 at 16:03

Just talk to them sincerely and say "I'm sorry and hope you'll understand because I can't lend you my gadgets". It may sound rube but its your things and you have the privilege to do whatever you want on them or who could only use them. There are no reasons for them to get mad at you because you haven't lend them your gadgets. In return don't expect someday that when you ask something on them they'll also lend you. However, if you trusted that person that he/she will take care of your gadgets carefully it depends on you.


When I am not doing what I went to college for, I like to turn a wrench. The neighbors know I like to turn a wrench and that I have some nice wrenches of which to turn. As such, they will invariably turn up looking to borrow a nice wrench or two.

I have a sign hanging in the garage that clearly communicates my policy when it comes to borrowing things:

enter image description here

Would I put that in an office setting? No.

However, we can learn from the clear messaging from our little sign here: Clearly communicate your intentions.

All you have to say is "Sorry, but I do not loan out my whatever it is you are asking for."

If they push the issue, you can say "I am very particular with my things, and I want to avoid any conflict that would arise should something happen. Please respect my wishes in this matter."

Now, that said be of the expectation that people will not loan you anything.

  • "Would I put that in an office setting? No." Then why post it on Workplace?
    – Brandin
    Aug 29, 2017 at 10:51
  • @Brandin - Did I say I would put it in a workplace, or did I say something else?
    – Allan
    Aug 29, 2017 at 12:07
  • I mean Workplace, the site you are on. It seems like you only posted the image for kicks, but then turn around and say you wouldn't actually use such an image.
    – Brandin
    Aug 29, 2017 at 15:05
  • Apparently you didn't read the paragraph before or after the sign. SMH.
    – Allan
    Aug 29, 2017 at 15:07
  • 1
    @Brandin he use the image to explain Clearly communicate your intentions. Aug 29, 2017 at 16:32

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