It feels good to do good for others, doesn’t it? Doing your part to make someone happy or help out a cause can add a healthy dose of satisfaction and fulfillment to your day. But while it would be nice if we could please everyone in life, there may be times when we just have to say no. Your first instinct might be to feel guilty when you don’t have the time or the energy, or you might not feel comfortable with a request. Luckily, you can overcome any nervousness you may have about saying no, here’s how.
You can’t do everything, and that’s okay. You’re human. If you’re overextending your abilities or undermining your values to try and meet the needs of someone else, it might be time to take a step back and have an honest talk with them. Your needs, your desires and your self-respect are important, too. In most cases, making yourself a priority in your life isn’t inconsiderate — it’s completely understandable and realistic. It’s good to give when you can, but your life belongs to you alone. You deserve to do whatever is right for you. You can cite this as a reason for saying no if you want to, but you certainly don’t have to. You can say no, as below, and not explain yourself. Or you can say, “I really need that time for personal things.” And most people will understand. The trick is choosing not to feel guilty once you’ve done the deed.
Take Time to Decide
If you’re already a people-pleaser, it can be even more difficult to reject a request when you feel under pressure to reply immediately. Sometimes it’s easier to say no confidently if you can take time to think over your other responsibilities, your feelings and your method of answer delivery. When someone asks you for a favor, there’s nothing wrong with telling them you’ll get back to them about it later. That way, if you need to make a rejection, you’ll know you’ve considered all your options before making up your mind.
Make no mistake — being firm and being rude are two different things. Being firm just means giving a clear, obvious answer to the person in need. If you make your answer final by saying, “No,” or, “I can’t help you with that,” the person asking you a favor may be less likely to try to change your mind or give you a reason to feel guilty. Most understanding people will probably accept, and even appreciate, a clear-cut response.
It can be tempting to say “yes,” even when we know we should just say “no.” That said, these tips can help you reasonably and politely reject requests and still feel confident in yourself and your choices. At the end of the day, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone — being yourself, and being honest, are plenty.