Has it ever happened to you that someone asked you to do something you didn’t want to do, but you said yes anyway?
And then later, you regretted saying yes?
Well, we have all been there, haven’t we?
You say yes out of the social pressure or the goodness of your heart, but later, you regret having to do that thing.
If this keeps happening to you, again and again, it might be time for you to take a stand for yourself.
Look, your time and energy are limited.
And you have every right in the world to say no to something if you don’t feel like it.
I know you might feel a little guilty saying no.
You might fear that you are coming across as a rude person.
But that’s all in your head!
If saying no is a difficult task for you, you can follow some great tips that will make things easier.
You will then learn the art of saying no without feeling guilty.
But before we go there, let’s first talk about why you need to learn how to say no.
I hope this will inspire you to stand up for yourself and create some personal boundaries.
Why You Need To Say No
Understanding and knowing the benefits from saying no will motivate you to stay strong and say no whenever you need to.
1) Your Time Is Limited
Time is one of the most precious resources you have.
As the wise ones say, time lost can never be recovered.
So, if you keep saying yes to people, even though you don’t actually want to, you will keep losing a lot of scarce time.
The more time you lose, the less you will be able to work on your dreams and desires. You also have less time for your beloved ones…..
This is not a situation you want to put yourself into!
2) Your Energy Is Limited
As with time, your energy is limited.
Every morning, your battery gets charged up, and you get a fixed amount of charge to go through your day.
Now, it’s up to you how you spend this energy.
You could spend it on important things like working on your goals.
Or you could waste it on other people’s whims and desires.
The choice is yours. Don’t blame others for the choices you make. You are in charge.
3) So That Others Don’t Take Advantage of You
There are many people around you that will look to take advantage of you.
Sadly, that’s just how some people are.
Now, it’s up to you whether you will let them get away with it or whether you will stand up for yourself.
Saying no will give them a loud and clear message that you will not be fooled.
4) To Help You Become Your Authentic Self
I am sure you keep hearing that you need to be your authentic self.
This might sound cliche, but it is actually very important if you want to live life on your own terms and experience fulfillment and happiness.
If you keep saying yes to other people for things that you just don’t enjoy doing, you are not being your true self.
You are merely acting the way others want you to.
To put an end to this and be more yourself, you need to learn to say “no” more often.
Tips To Help you Say “No” To People
Before I even begin talking about the tips, let me just clear something up.
Learning to say no doesn’t mean that you have to stop helping other people and be nice to them.
Of course, you don’t want to be shallow and selfish.
So, you need to judge every situation to the best of your ability and figure out whether the other person could genuinely use your help.
If that’s the case, you could even go out of your way to help them.
Now, back to the tips.
1) Use this 4-step reply to Say No
In order to make sure you won’t offend or hurt the person making the request. Here is a way to say no that should make things easier for your and the other person.
1st step: Start by thanking the person or with a positive comment.
“Thank you for your invitation,….”
” I am flattered and honored that you thought of me for this project,……
2nd step : Decline politely, you can say that you are sorry or you would love to etc…
“however, I am sorry I won’t be able to do it… “
“I would love to but ……”
3rd Step : Give the reason why you cannot in one or 2 sentences.
“because I am too busy right now, or because I am really tired”
“I have another meeting or appointment “
“I am not the right fit for this project “
(Optional) 4th Step: Offer an alternative if you want to but avoid giving false hopes.
“But what about next week? …”
“But I know someone who could help…”
This 4-step reply is quite compete and should in most cases help you say “no” without feeling guilty and without hurting the other person’s feelings.
2) Use Breathing To Help You Say No
Let’s say someone has just asked you something and you feel you have no other choice.
you don’t want to but feel pressured.
You definitely want to say no, but the only reason why you want to accept is because you don’t want to hurt the other person.
- Don’t rush into giving your answer.
- first take a a few deep belly breaths to relax : focus on your belly, your abdomen expands when you breathe in, and your abdomen contracts inwards when you exhale.
- Feel your feet on the ground and imagine your feet are like roots of a tree, strong and powerful.
- Keep in mind your well-being is important and if you don’t want to say yes, you have every right to say “no”. Then calmly give your reply to the other person following our 4 steps. ( cf point 1 above)
The more you practice , the easier it will be for you to be more assertive ( and still be polite and kind 🙂 )
3) Think About What You Will Be Giving Up
If you are the type of person who likes to help others, you could easily get swept up by other people’s requests.
In your mind, their task becomes more important than anything else.
Saying yes clearly give you quick short term relief, which avoids confrontation, guilt but you have to be a little practical.
If you keep giving in to other people’s requests, when are you going to have time to focus on your own life?
Everytime you say “yes” to someone or something, you kind of say no to your own priorities.
I know this sounds a little selfish, but it is totally justified when it comes to saying yes to unproductive things.
Whenever someone asks you for something, you need to think about what you will be giving up.
Maybe one of your projects would get delayed, or maybe you could be late for a dinner party.
Everytime you say yes to things you don’t feel like, you say no to the things or people that matter to you.
Just figure out whether that person’s request is more important than what you would be giving up.
4) Understand That You Don’t Need To Please Everyone
I am sure you have heard of the word “people pleaser.”
These are people who have a strong need to please everyone around them.
Well, guess what?
It’s these people that others take advantage of the most.
If you happen to be a people pleaser or have a misconception that you have to make everyone happy, you need to snap out of it.
If you can’t do that, well, you need to work on improving your self-esteem so you don’t feel guilty turning others down.
Look, you need to realize that other people’s happiness is not your job.
Sure, you should spread happiness whenever you can, but you don’t have to tend to everyone’s whims to keep them consistently happy.
Again, if you do so, how will you have time and energy to look after your own happiness?
5) you are not responsible for other people’s feelings
One reason we struggle to say no is because we don’t want other people to feel bad.
We don’t want to make people feel they are rejected or feel we don’t care…
We feel responsible for how other people’s feel.
That’s why we say yes to anyone’s request, even if it impacts our life, our own goals and ultimately our happiness.
So the question is what do you want? you want to be happy and you are afraid to say no because the other person would be sad.
And what about your own feelings?
What about your own well being ?
If your rejecting their request with tact and politeness, explaining them why you can’t, make them angry.
Then that is their problem. You are not responsible for their feelings.
They should accept and respect your decision. If not, then it could be wise to reconsider the relationship.
6) Prioritize Things Based On Importance
Sometimes, you just say yes to things when you are not clear about your priorities.
But when you know where your priorities lie, you will be much more cautious about accepting other people’s requests.
For example, if saving money is your top priority, you will not want to go to watch movies regularly. So, it will become much easier for you to say no to your friends or colleagues.
Therefore, you should periodically revisit your list of priorities and update it if needed.
If you don’t have a list, to begin with, well, you should get started.
List out all the things that are most important to you in life.
And make it a point to never compromise on them.
7) Be Straightforward
When you want to say no, your first instinct might be to give an excuse.
And you might feel bad about having to do so.
After all, you don’t want to lie, but you also don’t want to say yes to the other person.
So, what do you do?
Well, in my opinion, it is always better to be straightforward.
And don’t try to give too much explanation.
For example, if someone invites you to a party for which you will have to travel to another state, you could say, “I am honored to be invited to your party, I am sure it will be awesome. However, I won’t be able to make it.”
You can use the following 2 sentence rule to make it short and effective :
- start with the sentence ” Sorry, I can’t” or “I am sorry”
- then give the reason why you cannot in one sentence.
Example: “I am sorry, I am really up to my ears and I won’t be able to do this.”
8) Be honest and sincere
Sometimes, the best way to say no and to avoid hurting the other person is simply to be honest.
I truly think that if you are sincere and explain your reasons, most people will accept it and will appreciate your honesty. They may also have issues saying no so they could totally appreciate you efforts to be sincere.
you could say : “thank you for the invitation. It sounds great but I am sorry I am really tired and I really need to take some time for myself. “
Don’t lie or don’t try to find some lousy excuses, just focus on being sincere.
Most people will understand. If they don’t, then it means they don’t take into account your interests and they are probably not the best people to be around…..
9) Use the Medium You Are Most Comfortable With.
If saying “no” face to face is really too difficult for you, ( yeah it can be tough to see the reaction of the other peron..) then feel free to use any medium you have.
You could call, send an email, send a text message, record a voice message via whatsapp or any social app.
What matters is to do it in a way that feels confortable for you.
Of course, make sure to stay polite and respectful 🙂
10) The request is not the person
I used to have difficulty saying no to anyone because for me, saying no was equivalent to saying no to the person. I felt bad because I did not want to give the impression that I was rejecting the person.
This is why for me saying “no” was a real challenge.
When I finally understood that I could dissociate the request and the person. It really gave me “permission” to take back my freedom and say no to any request without guilt.
After all, rejecting the request is not about the person at all. It is just this request. It is not personal.
It does not mean that I will reject every request from this person.
If the next request from this person is something I want to do, then I will gladly accept…..
See? I am just saying no the this request and not the person 🙂
11) Stay positive and open
In our society, no is often associated with negativity, rejection or a bad thing.
Saying no does not mean that we don’t like the other person, or that we don’t care about what others feel…..
The request is just not aligned currently with our priorities. But our priorities could change in the future. That ‘s why we need to staypositive and open.
So when you need to say no, just explain your reason that make it impossible now.
you could say: “Thank you, I really appreciate your invitation, but I cannot take it because of…..”
This helps to keep your options open. Feel free to encourage this person to keep in touch later for other opportunities….. 🙂
12) Try To Give Them An Alternative
Sometimes, you may want to help the other person, but you might have something more pressing to do.
Of course, when this happens, you might feel bad about saying no to them.
If that’s the case, you could try and point them to someone who could help them.
You might know someone who could solve their problems in an instant.
For example, if your friend needs help with choosing the design of their website, you might connect them to a web-designer friend of yours.
You could say, “I have a friend who is much better at this stuff than me. Let me give you his contact number.”
13) take it on yourself.
one way to refuse and say no without hurting anyone is to take it on yourself so the other person will be able to accept your refusal more easily….
simply state that the request/ product is totally fine but it’s not for you.
It is the classical, “It is not you, it is me”.
you could say something like:
” thank you for your offer, I am flattered and honored. It is just that I am not the right fit for it.”
” your products are great. It is just that I don’t have any need for now”
14) Stop Saying Sorry All The Time
It is normal to feel bad when you have to turn someone down.
You might wonder what the other person might think or feel.
You might wonder how they will get their problem sorted or how they will manage without your help.
This is human nature, and it makes you want to apologize to them repeatedly.
However, think of this from a different perspective.
Your time and energy are precious.
And you have the right to decide where you will spend them.
So, there is no need to be apologetic to someone for saving your precious resources.
Especially if it’s about something that you really don’t want to do or something that goes against your principles.
Just be polite and turn them down gently.
15) Be Clear About Your Personal And Professional Boundaries
Boundaries are very important in life.
They not only tell other people how close they are allowed to get to you but also give you clarity about how much you should extend yourself.
As such, it’s a good idea to have personal as well as professional boundaries.
For example, if you don’t like people going through your stuff at home or at your workplace, let it be known.
If you don’t want to talk about a particular subject, tell the other person to stop asking questions about it. You could say : “I know you mean well, but right now I am not comfortable talking about this subjet.”
If someone wants you to do something for free (for which you normally charge a fee), tell them straightforwardly that you will have to charge them for it.
You could say something like:”I would be more than happy to help you, for this kind of work, i usually charge X $, is it ok for you?”
or you could also give them a special price.. 🙂
“I would be more than happy to help you. For this kind of work, i usually charge ……. $, but for you, I will give you a special price, is it ok for you?”
Establishing boundaries will also prevent situations in the future where you might have to say no.
16) Take Time To Think About It
Have you ever been in a situation where someone asks you for something, and you feel like you have to reply within a nanosecond?
I mean, being polite and kind is one thing, but remember that you don’t have to respond immediately.
You are entitled to take your time and think about it before making a decision!
I think this goes for every person.
So, the next time someone asks you for help or asks you to come along for a dinner meetup, you can say, “Let me get back to you on this.”
Then, follow point number 1 and think about what you will be giving up if you say yes.
If you come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it, follow point number 4 and be straightforward about not being able to do so.
This will give you time to think about it without feeling too pressured and to avoid taking a decision that you could regret later on……
17) Be Appreciative While Saying No
Not everyone wants to waste your time.
Not everyone wants to take advantage of you.
Some people might genuinely want your help or want to spend time with you.
Some people might even be trying to do something good for you!
You need to be mindful of this and act accordingly.
So, if someone asks you to join a project (thinking that it will help your career), and you don’t want to do it, you should turn it down politely. You could say, “Thank you, I am so flattered that you thought of me for this project, but I just don’t think that I am a good fit for it.”
If someone invites you for a weekend picnic, you could say, “That seems like such a fun time, but I won’t be able to make it due to (insert your reason here).”
18) Don’t Give People False Hopes
Sometimes, you just know instantly that you don’t want to do what the other person is asking you to do.
When you do, it’s better to end the matter there and then.
There is no point in dragging it by saying that you will think about it or that you will get back to them soon.
Do yourself and the other person a favor, and turn them down gently.
Just be straightforward about why you can’t do it.
This way, you won’t have to keep thinking about it…..
This willalso give them time and the opportunity to go to someone else.
But more importantly, you will not be giving false hopes to them and then crushing those hopes.
So saying no on the spot is better for both of you.
19) Write your answer down
For some of us, saying no requires more preparation. Especially if you have to say no to someone that is important to you.
Writing your answer down helps you process your thoughts and think about the best words to use to convey your message in a polite and tactful manner.
You could also write down the pros and cons of saying yes or no, so bascially you have a list of pros and a list of cons for each “path”.
This is quite helpful especially if you need to have a clear view of the benefits if saying no……
20) Don’t Think About Morality Every Single Time
In my opinion, thoughts about morality can be important.
They keep you in check and ensure that you always do the right thing.
However, if you let that interfere in every decision of yours, it will be impossible for you to say no to someone.
You will always feel like you are doing a horrible thing by turning someone down.
But consider this.
You should do a good deed only if you do it from the heart.
If you are doing a good deed just for the sake of being called a good person, that doesn’t seem to be right.
So, say yes to someone if you really want to.
And say no when you don’t.
It’s as simple as that.
21) If You’re Not Comfortable, Just Say No
Some people might ask you to do something or ask for some other favor that could make you uncomfortable.
Of course, they may or may not know that their request would make you feel this way.
Regardless, it is always better to turn them down politely when you know that it will keep nagging at you in the future.
For example, if someone asks you whether they can stay at your place for the weekend, and you are not comfortable sharing your space, you could just be straightforward with them.
You could say, “I am so sorry, but I am a really private person and feel very uncomfortable sharing my place with people.”
If someone asks you if they could borrow your phone for an hour, you could say, “I hate to say no, but I get really uncomfortable when other people use my phone. Even my family members are not allowed!”
22) Practice Saying No
As they say, practice makes perfect.
You could literally start practicing saying no if you find it difficult to do.
You can start off with small things like saying no to a request for a coffee.
Gradually, you will develop more confidence, and saying no will become much easier.
In fact, you can ask your best friend to help you with this.
You two could literally get together for practice sessions where they keep asking you pretend questions, and you keep saying no to them!
It could be a fun way to pass time!
23) Improve Your Self-Esteem
One reason why you may feel the need to say yes to everyone could be because you lack self-esteem.
I mean, if you don’t value yourself, it’s likely that you won’t value your time as well.
For you, other people’s lives and matters become more important than yours.
And so, you just want to get involved with their matters because you think that’s what you “have” to do.
If this is your problem, then you need to improve your self-esteem.
This can be a long process, but improving your self-esteem will help you out in almost all areas of your life (not just with turning people down).
So how do you improve your self-esteem?
You could master new skills, list out your accomplishments, practice gratitude, get clear on your values, exercise, challenge your negative beliefs about yourself, practice self-care, and so on.
24) Understand Manipulative Tactics
This is a fun one.
I am sure you know how people can get really manipulative to get you to do things they want.
Some people really don’t care about you and want to have their way with any means necessary.
These are the people you should say no to without feeling any sort of guilt.
And you can do that by understanding their tactics.
Say, your coworker asks you, “Do you want to go to a movie with me or a coffee?”
Now, he or she is not giving you a choice to deny.
And if you answer without thinking, you might say yes to one or the other.
Similarly, some organizations might force you to donate by saying, “Would you like to donate $10, $20, $30,….” Again, you are not given a choice to opt-out.
In situations like this, you need to say no anyway (if you want to).
And don’t think for a second that you are being rude.
After all, they are the ones trying to manipulate you!