Why is it so hard to say no? Even when we know we don’t have enough time to help someone, when it means compromising our own needs or when we’re not compelled to agree – we often say ‘yes’ anyway.  And it rarely ends well; we wind up feeling resentful, unnecessarily stressed out and, at times unable to get our own sh*t done as a result.

Saying ‘no’ in our culture is generally viewed as a form of aggression so, in order to be friendly and cooperative, we simply agree. And when we do, we often underestimate the cost of saying ‘yes’ and overestimate the cost of declining. Saying ‘yes’ to something means saying ‘no’ to something else, and if that ‘something else’ is important to you, you’ll likely regret your decision.

learn to say no picBe Direct. When saying no, don’t offer an explanation or leave room for the asker to try again.  Simply decline in a polite yet assertive way.  Here are some examples:

– “Oh,  I’m not free next Tuesday.”

– “Sorry — not today.”

– “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I have too much going on this week. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

Keep in Mind:

1/ The cost of saying no is generally not as high as you think.  As uncomfortable as it may feel initially saying ‘no’, it’s not such a big deal. People tend to be understanding even if they’re surprised by your response. It is as fine for you to decline as it is for someone to ask a favor of you.

2/ It becomes easier with practice. You’ll soon discover that saying ‘no’ isn’t difficult once you’ve gotten into the habit of not automatically saying ‘yes’.  You’ll feel less uneasy declining requests once you’ve had a few positive experiences with it.

exhausted guy on floor3/ You’ll be happier, less stressed and more productive as a result.  Sure, you could see yourself as being selfish by saying ‘no’, but really – why should you consider your needs as less important than someone else’s? It is sad to habitually agree to things that stress you out and/or prevent you from enjoying life.

3 Gems To Remember When Saying No To Friends:  Naturally, we’re at our weakest when it comes to saying no to those we love – and of course we’re usually more than willing to help a friend in need.  However, when we do need to decline, it’s even harder for us to do so, as we don’t want any hurt feelings or to disappoint someone we care about.  Here is some advice on how to say ‘no’ better to a friend:

1/ Don’t wait to respond. When a friend asks you something by email or leaves you a voicemail, get back to him or her right away. By addressing the issue quickly you’ll save yourself and your friend undue stress; it will also give your friend time to consider asking someone to replace you.

2/ Explain briefly why you need to decline but don’t get into too much detail or over-excuse yourself.  You can briefly explain why you need to say ‘no’, but don’t feel obligated to do so out of guilt.  Your friend will understand; if he or she overreacts and freaks out because you need to say ‘no’, perhaps this isn’t the type of friend you need.

 3/ Show your support by offering some other form guidance. If your friend needs your help on a project, share some other information that may be helpful – examples: a link to a related article, a document, or a some of your ideas about the project.

“There are some things you can never have back. Your time, your health, your virtue, your life. Don’t mess around with those things. It’s fine for people to ask — most likely, in their mind, they’re trying to help introduce you to a great person or opportunity or meaningful cause. And it’s just as fine for you to say no.” – Eva Glasrud


* A Song To Get You In The Mood: “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

“Say what you gotta say…”

Sources & Related Articles:

“How To Say No To Anyone (Even A Good Friend)”, article in Muse: https://goo.gl/OBnsNq

“10 Guilt-free Strategies to Say No”, article in Real Simple: http://goo.gl/xJmuap

“How To Learn To Say ‘No’”, article in Time: http://goo.gl/Aa6mXz