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How to say ‘NO’ and not feel bad about it

There are very few people we know who can say NO to requests made at them without blinking. Half of these people we really admire and wished we were like, the remaining half on the other hand we don’t admire because we see them as mean, selfish people. We have been socialised to please, and so saying “no” to a request can be a hard thing to do. We don’t like to be seen as mean, selfish or unfriendly so we often find ourselves in situations we wished we had declined.

You are probably reading this post because you a problem saying ‘no’. Before I go further, you should know that saying no to certain requests is about respecting your time and other people’s time. It prevents you from spreading yourself too thin. If you keep saying yes to everyone and everything, you are most likely to find yourself in a situation where you cannot fulfil all requests (because there are too many of them) which will then make you an unreliable person. So how do you start saying no when you need to it? You need a little forethought and a little confidence in yourself. Below are some suggestions.

Understand Your Situation

When confronted with a situation, your response of “yes” or “no” will depend on the circumstance of the  request. For example, you might decline a request from your work colleague a bit differently than you would your mechanic. A request for your hard-earned money, time, undivided attention, computer gadget buying advice, and somewhat-valuable petition signature may all require a different kind of “no.” Thus, depending on how you feel about the situation, who’s asking you for help, and whether your resources is available in the request’s category. This is why declining a request is not straight forward. And it is not also as simple case of “do I want to do this?”

If you understand how you feel about a given situation and who you would be willing to help enables you to give an honest answer when asked. Sometimes, the guilt from saying “no” to a request is because you don’t really feel confident in the reason for saying it in the first place. So think about these things and understand why you wouldn’t want to sign a petition or go see “Titanic”. You are most likely to respond ‘appropriately’ – based on how you really feel – if you are able to do this ahead of time, so I suggest you start thinking about it not.

If you are unsure about how to respond to a certain request, don’t feel pressured to answer right away. Ask the person making the request for some time to think about it. A reasonable person will understand your request and even appreciate your consideration.

No Need For Detailed Explanations

You may be tempted to give reasons for saying no to a request because you don’t want to be seen as inconsiderate or anything negative. Giving reasons for your no will only give the person making the request to counter request.  For example “I can’t you go with you to pick out a dress because I have to mow the lawn?” The requester would simply offer to help you when you get back which would make it difficult for you to make another excuse. On the other hand, you cannot simply say “no” without giving any context as this will you look really mean. You may rather want to go like “no I can’t come with you because I don’t have a lot of free time. But thank you for considering me.” This answer is not giving too much details and it is also not too abrupt either. Giving too much information will only lead to a situation where you might say no and feel guilty or say yes and be very unhappy with your response.

One “No” May Not Be Enough

Even though you may have said no to a request, some people will continue to ask help. You don’t need to feel bad about countering their continued request with a resolved no. Some people like to push and see just how resolved you are about your earlier “no,” while some just do it because they think they can without realising that their behaviour is inappropriate. Let them know you understand their request but you still say no and perhaps, ask politely that they not ask you again.

Don’t Become a No trigger

Once you become comfortable with saying no to requests, please do not change “yes” with “no” by refusing every request made of you. You not only become a mean and selfish person, you will also begin to act inappropriately. You see, society thrives on random requests and favours to keep moving forward. If you decide to say no to all requests, people will ‘black-list’  you. You will become a a subject of ridicule and mockery at the very least. And you can be very sure you will receive no help or favours from anyone for that matter. You need to balance your response, and I am not suggesting a 50-50 split or anything like that. A healthy reasonable dose of “yes” and “no” is all you need.

So there you go, now you know what to do if you come to a situation you want to say no to. As usual, let what you think and if you have other suggestions on how to say “no”.

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