A little over a year ago I changed my job. Now my previous employer (a small startup) has contacted me asking what it would take for me to come back. While the place was not at all bad and I left on fairly friendly terms (as much as possible when your leaving itself hurts the company), I really love my current workplace and have no desire to go back. I've already decided on a "no" for an answer, but I can't come up with a good way to put it that minimizes the chances of them being upset. I don't want to burn any bridges, who knows what the future holds.
At the same time, I'm a person who really dislikes conflict, so when people try to pressure me, I tend to give in just to keep the peace. They, on the other hand, have no issues with pressuring people, and they could reeeeally use my help, so that's another thing I'm worried about. I know I will not give in, but there is the potential for me becoming reeeeally uncomfortable. I'm looking for some way of answering that leaves them with no further recourse but to accept it; where it's pointless to try and pressure me.
Some options I've considered:
- Saying that I want to come back, and name a salary too large. This is risky. Obviously, there is some price at which I will move. If they promise me a million euros a month, I'll do it, of course. But where is that line? The real answer to that question I don't know myself. If I name the price too ludicrously high, I'm afraid it'll sound like I'm blowing them off. If I make it plausible, there's a chance they might actually offer it to me and then I'll have to either accept it, or tell them that I was lying. In addition, even if they do accept a very high salary, I'm not certain how long they would be able to pay it out. They have made some too optimistic decisions at past.
- Saying that I won't come back because there are some "personal" or "family" reasons. That's nonspecific enough and would prevent further prying (I think), but I also feel like this still sounds too much like an excuse. It's obvious that I'm not telling something and trying to avoid conversation. I doubt they will be happy with this.
- Telling them the truth by simply saying that I like the new place better. I believe this would be just followed with more questions about what exactly do I like here better, insistence that their place is pretty good too, more offers of a bigger salary, and other kinds of pressuring.
So... How can I politely decline a job offer from a previous employer, avoid them challenging my reasons for doing so, yet not burn bridges?
P.S. Almost forgot - as for my culture, I'm from Europe. Hope that's enough.