Do you find it difficult to be assertive and say No to people’s requests? Then the art of saying No without hurting the feelings of others will be an important skill to learn.
Saying No doesn’t mean you have to be rude about it. There are plenty of polite, yet assertive, ways you can say No to people, when you need to.
Here are some ways you can say No, without being rude or impolite:
1. “No” to now, but “Yes” to later. “I’m very busy at the moment. Perhaps someone else can help you. If not, I’ll have time later in the week to help you out.”
This is a great way to say No. It’s assertive, but also positive and kind. You’re letting the person know you can’t do what they’re asking at the moment. However, you give them the option to ask someone else or wait until you have the time to help out.
2. “No” unless something changes. “I’m very flattered that you’ve asked me. However, I’m currently not in a position where I can take on this responsibility. Could we talk about this at another time, when my current circumstances change?”
This statement says No while still being polite. You let them know how thrilled you are that they’ve asked you, but then you’re honest about how little time you have to commit to their request at this point, and that you’re willing to revisit the request if your current circumstances change.
3. A definitive “No”. “Unfortunately, I’m not able to do this because I’ll overextend myself.” OR “I’m sorry, I’m not able to help you with this because I’ll overextend myself.”
With this statement, you express regret for disappointing the person, yet you still let them know that this is a solid No. Because you’re giving them a reasonable explanation why you can’t help them, it allows them to understand where you’re coming from and also makes them sympathetic to the plight you’re in.
4. “No” to attend an event. “I had a great time before, but I won’t be able to make it this time since I’m already overscheduled.” OR “I had a great time at these kinds of events before, but I won’t attend this particular event because __________.”
Sometimes you may get asked to an event you don’t want to attend or that you just don’t have the time for. The first statement lets the person know you’ve had a great time at these events in the past, yet this time around you’re too busy to attend.
The second statement lets the person know, you’ve had a great time at similar type of events in the past, yet this kind event is not one you want to attend, and you give a reason for your decision. Generally speaking, most people will be more understanding towards you, and more likely to accept what you have to say, when you can give them a reason for a decision you’re making, or an action you’re taking.
5. “No” to loaning money. “I really wish I could, but I’ve made it my practice not to loan money to anyone. The reason being _______.”
Money is one thing that some people ask for from their friends and family. It can be an uncomfortable situation because you don’t want to insult them or hurt their feelings. This statement is a nice way to be assertive and say No, while still being kind.
You let them know that you wish you could loan them the money, yet you go on to explain why you won’t. You make it clear that this is a practice you have for everyone, and you’re not just saying No to him or her personally.
It is important to remember that part of our human nature is the need to be liked and accepted. To increase our chances of someone responding favourably to us, most of us will resort to the practice of pleasing others. As a result, we say Yes to other people’s requests – more often than what it suits us. Whether it’s taking on more work that cuts into our private life, doing things (for others) we don’t actually have time for, or doing things we don’t like, nor want to.
Whatever the situation, it’s important to remember you have the right and choice to say N0. In doing so, you show yourself (and others) that you respect yourself, you honour what is important to you, and you value your time.
Saying No, in a pleasant tone of voice, to some requests and offers that come your way, helps you set boundaries. With these in place, you choose how you want to spend your time – without a sense of obligation or feeling guilty. You are able to utilise your time better to get done what you need to, without feeling overwhelmed.
You are able to honour commitments you already have, without overextending yourself.
And, most importantly, you stay aligned with what you want and like, without compromising what matters to you most.
When you learn to say No to certain requests and offers, you are honouring yourself, value your time and what you need.
You feel freer, really good, and so much happier.
That makes it worthwhile learning to say No, doesn’t it?