How to Say No to Others

Do you have a hard time saying no to others? Do you say “yes” when you really mean no? You’re not alone. Many people end up saying “yes” to something they don’t really want to do for several reasons.

Why You Say No

1. You don’t want to be rude

This is the number one reason people find it hard to say no to someone. You fear that saying no will make you look like a rude person. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sometimes you have to put your own needs ahead of others. People understand this.

2. You don’t want conflict

You simply don’t want to face confrontation. You fear that the other person might get angry or feel rejected if you say no. This is rarely the case, especially if you explain why you are saying no.

3. You don’t have the time

Sometimes you want to help but you just don’t have the time. If this is the case then offer to help out some other time. The other person will appreciate the fact that you really do want to help.

4. The person is your boss

Sometimes it is near impossible to say no to someone who is in authority. You don’t want to give the impression that you are not committed to your job. Your boss is responsible for your pay check after all.

I’ve found that bosses can be more understanding than we give them credit for. Explain that your priority is to complete the work you have already started. You don’t want to have to rush and do a mediocre job.

5. You don’t want to be alienated

When everyone else says yes and you say no, you fear that you will be alienated from the group. Therefore, fear of loss creeps in and you find yourself saying yes. Start to give yourself and others more credit. It is extremely unlikely for people to no longer want to be around you just because you have said no a few times.

How to Say No

If you have always been a “yes man” then you have not had much practice in saying no to others. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. As soon as you start saying no more and more often, you will realise that it is not nearly as hard as you once thought. It was in your mind all along.

It is all down to how you say “no.”

1. “I’m sorry, I just don’t have the time at the moment.”

If you are too busy then let the other person know. After all, your own work and family comes first. The other person will understand, especially if they also have a busy job and a family of their own.

You may find it easier to give specifics. You can expand upon your answer, sharing the details as to why you don’t have time.

2. “I don’t think I’m the best person to help you out. Why don’t you try…”

If you think you can’t be of any help then simply say so. Maybe you know someone else who would be better suited for the task. Recommend that person instead. This is a good one to use at work.

3. “Let me get back to you.”

Sometimes you first have to check your schedule before you can commit to something. But remember, it’s not a good idea to say this when you really mean no in the first place. This will waste the other person’s time; time which could have been spent finding someone else who would say yes.

4. “I’m sorry but now is not a good time. How about some other time?”

They say that timing is everything; sometimes you might be asked to do something when you are in the middle of something. Don’t hesitate to say that you are busy right now but you can help at a later date.

However, you must never offer to do something in the future if you don’t mean it. This will turn out to be much worse than simply saying no in the first place.

5. “I would rather decline than do a mediocre job”

When you know that you won’t be able to do the best job you can, simply say so. The other person will appreciate your honesty. You could even follow it up with, “I’d rather say no now than I’m sorry later,” for extra effect.

6. “I’d love to but…”

This is usually a gentle way of saying no to someone. Saying that you would love to do something shows that you like the other person’s idea but you just can’t do it.

7. “No”

This is the simplest and most direct way. Simply say “no.” There is no need to add any details unless asked for. We spend so much time thinking of good, elaborate excuses when being direct is often the simplest and best way.

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