I was offered to collaborate as freelancer in the company I used to work (I quitted and I'm working in a different place right now). I was talking with the company owner, who told me that in case I decided to accept the conditions, I'd be put in a different project from before... To make a long story short, now they have notified me that the project is not different.

The thing is that I had already accepted verbally (when I spoke with the owner) and said that I have plenty time to spend in any project, but actually I don't want to be in the same project that was the main cause by which I quitted.

Now I want to refuse their offer, but I am afraid that it could affect future relations between us if I don't do it properly.

How can I nicely tell them that I don't want to have anything to do with that project but that I'd be will to work in any other.

  • 1
    To anyone, kindly note that its different to workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/11219/… Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 0:56
  • Did you already talk with your boss regarding the situation basics, including what changed? I would start with finding out what changed in fact. Those details should be in your question, because any response depends on the reason why the offer changed (accidentally, planning changes, deceit, etc.)
    – user3169
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:22
  • No, I did not. I think that it's not a good idea because the boss is not peaceful but rather malicious. I know for a fact that he did the change intentionally. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:41
  • 2
    You should add that to your question. And in that case, when you write "it could affect future relations between us", why would you care if the boss is unworkable? You can't call the shots because he is the boss, not you.
    – user3169
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 6:21
  • If you believe the boss intentionally changed the project, what makes you think he won't try to ease you back into that project after you've started? Are you sure that every other project at that company will be significantly better?
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 17:44

5 Answers 5


If I were you, I would maintain a fine balance between staying polite and natural.

I would have wrote an Email something like this:

Dear Sir,

Thank you so much for the offer for the (offered position - collaborator I reckon?). I appreciate you taking the time to consider me and for answering so many of my questions about the project and role. While this project seems like a good opportunity in most of the cases, I am afraid it was the same reason which prompted me to quit from here. Despite moving, I still had/have interest to collaborate/work in your (add any word like prestigious etc. which seems suitable) company and hopefully soon there will be a position for me in a new/different project.

  • Thanks for answering; you gave me a good idea, so now I can handle the situation, but since they don't know the specific reason I quitted I'd like to avoid the cause. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:41
  • Its upto you but I would recommend you to be natural as much as you can since these problems must be discussed properly. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:54

@Sebastian this bit from a comment above "they don't know the specific reason I quit" is at least half the problem here. I think this boss guy doesn't fully understand the extent to which this particular project is off limits to you.

I would talk to him, professional to professional. Tell him, "Look, I like working with you and [company]. But Project X is a very bad fit for me. Let's take a look at what projects are going on, and see if we can find a better fit." If you two can't come to an agreement on that basis, friendly handshake and tell him to keep you in his rolodex, you're sure something else will come up before long.

In passing, one has to wonder what was so toxic about Project X? Was it the people on the project, or the nature of the work itself? Boss will likely ask you that. And you should be honest, otherwise he might give you what you say you want and put you on Project Y with all the people you hated from Project X transferred in!


If the work he is directing you to is not just what he earlier told you it would be the phrase you may employ is "That/this is not what was discussed."

Make clear the difference between what he knew you did not want and what he promised, and make clear that the actuality of your taking the job depends on this. Any action you take on this basis will be well understood and respected.


A bit off topic to start with but when thinking back on a bad project, you need to focus on what was actually the problem and act depending on that. To quit based on a project, I imagine it was pretty bad but what was really bad about it? Was it time management? Resource allocation? Bad manager/team lead? Bad codebase? Crappy co-workers (incompetent/hard to talk to etc.)?

If you answer that, you can formulate a better and maybe more honest answer to your previous boss.

I was in a similar situation like you where I was asked by my former boss to work as external to one of my old projects. Knowing that the project was badly managed, which lead to feature changes in a short time, which in turn lead to bad codebase, I was totally honest with him and told him that due to the state of that project, I would prefer not to work on it.

Otherwise, approach it from a standpoint of looking to do something new, fresh and exciting. That was the reason you agreed to it in the first place anyway. Being shoved back into an old project offers nothing new, exciting or challenging for you.

Hope this helps, good luck!


First things first; The company whose offer you're declining is going to be extremely pissed off. So be ready for a not so pleasant conversation/interaction.

Do the following:

Call immediately: Without wasting any time, call the HR rep from the company immediately and inform them about the decision. Time is of essence here for the company whose offer you are declining. The more you delay, the more difficulty it puts the company in to.

Reason: Please be as open and honest as you can be about your reason for declining the offer just as you have done so in the details accompanying the question. You needn't disclose the name of the company you've decided to join, however please be honest and upfront about the reason. Honesty is always appreciated.

Apology: The HR rep you'd be speaking to will be dejected, frustrated and possibly even in rage when you announce your decision to him/her. Apologize for having had to decline the offer. Please understand that you're putting the company in a lot of difficulty by declining the offer. Empathize with the person at the other end and tell him/her that it was by no means an easy decision and render a genuine, heartfelt apology.

Email: Please write an email to all who were part of the recruiting process explaining to them your decision with utmost openness and honesty just as you have done over the call.

Gratitude: Please thank the company and its management for the opportunity given to you and for considering your candidature for the role. Be connected on professional networks like LinkedIn with the people you have interacted with over the course of the recruitment process.

Hope this helps.

  • The company whose offer you're declining is going to be extremely pissed off. - They changed the terms of the offer... They effectively declined their own original verbal offer. They made a NEW verbal offer to the OP. Which he can then accept or decline based on it's particulars. Your answer places most of the blame / problem with the consultant. I disagree with you on that tone.
    – GWR
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 13:41

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