I was asked to provide a reference by someone who hadn't done a good job on a project she had done for me. Not only had she taken much longer than promised; the whole process ended up becoming a convoluted mess.
I cringed at the thought of my good reference putting someone else in the position I had been in - totally stressed over whether the job was going to get done in time. I turned down her request politely without thinking twice about it.
There are other reasons to decline a request for a recommendation. I've been asked to recommend people on LinkedIn that I don't even know. I wouldn't have a clue what to write about them.
If you can't provide a positive recommendation, it's better not to give one at all. Here's how to politely reject a request for a reference, along with sample letters and messages you can send to decline.
Image Copyright Getty Images Ron Krisel