Recently, my acquaintance asked me to do him a favor. He wants to borrow my ski googles for a week-end (2 days).

I don't really want to lend them to him, because we are not close at all, furthermore the googles are a present and are quite expensive. I'm also not sure about their safeness.

How can I politely decline this kind of request?

  • Why you use "rent" in the title? is money changing hands or is just borrow? Jan 24, 2019 at 15:56
  • I used word rent to make the question more universal. This situation is about borrowing staff. Jan 24, 2019 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


You simply say "no, sorry" or elucidate a bit and say "no, sorry, I don't lend out personal items", or "No, sorry, this has too much sentimental value to me".

The level of detail you get into is up to you, but refusing to do a favor is not by it's very nature, rude, so "no, sorry" is blunt, but not rude.

Now, if the person persists, just say "no", without any explanation. If you offer an excuse, then you offer an opportunity to overcome your objections. This is a sales tactic and why you often wind up leaving a store with things you had no intention of buying.

So, the fewer words said, the better, as it prevents escalation.


Whenever I get asked to lend or borrow something and I don't want to do that, my response is to say, "sorry, it's not available". Why it's not available or how it's not available is irrelevant and if asked, I just repeat the answer: "Sorry, it's just not available." It may be unavailable because I want to leave it on my shelf or because I don't trust the potential borrower. Either way, it's just not available.

People tend to ask for reasons to argue against them, so providing any kind of reason just encourages a debate I don't want. Even if the response is, "C'mon, you're not using them...", my answer doesn't change.


A university friend of mine, Bill, had a really nice set of golf clubs. (He played Pinehurst regularly.)
Whenever he was asked to borrow them his response was, "I'm left handed."

One day the response to that was, "Yes, I know, me too."
This startled Bill. He turned to give his full attention to the person asking and said, "Oh, I'm sorry. Generally people go away when I say that. The real answer is that I don't loan out my golf clubs."

And he didn't.

How can I politely decline this kind of request?

"I'm sorry, I don't loan my ski goggles" is a polite way to decline the request.

If he doesn't take the hint (mentions money) just repeat, "No, I'm sorry."

  • 1
    An amusing story! If I might suggest: can this have something added to help the interpersonal skill? As it stands, this is a really great story which can be used to help illustrate saying no but doesn't quite develop skills between two people. Jan 23, 2019 at 21:30

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