A.M. provided a great quote this morning when he made the observation that "No is an acceptable answer". In fact No is probably said more times than Yes or Maybe (I can't find the statistics but my intuition tells me No wins).
Ellen, as a child, would answer "No, ... Yes .... Maybe" to most questions/decisions that were difficult. As if buying time she had everything covered by this answer. Notice that No was the first response followed by a pause as she thought about the costs/benefits further.
Actually many people have great difficulty saying No. They correlate No with the feeling of guilt. Sometimes in an attempt not to "hurt" someone, they will couch their statements or defer a decision - like a pocket veto. This is why in scheduling people or planning attendance, if they haven't responded either yes or no - you can assume no.
Even when people are assertive (and self confident) enough to say 'No', they mess it up with trying to explain why 'No' is the answer. Explaining just creates more questions and or lack of understanding by the party receiving the 'No' news.
SVP Cincinnati has made their Non-Profit selection (called our Investee) this year. All three candidates that presented Wednesday night were great finalists - but only one could be chosen. In a discussion afterwards, the Investment committee wrestled with how to tell the two runners up that they were not chosen. Many on our committee wanted to give them specific feedback. I was dead set against giving specific feedback.
A simple "No, you were not selected' - is both acceptable and ENOUGH information.