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Simple Steps To Help You Say No!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Priyanka Srivastava 90% (23 ratings)
B.A.(H)Psychology, M.A.Psychology, Ph. D - Psychology
Psychologist, Noida  •  32 years experience
Simple Steps To Help You Say No!

Humans are social animals who thrive on reciprocality. It is in our basic nature to be socially courteous, and the word 'No' feels like a conflict that warns a potential relationship. Many of us tend to comply with every single request that is put forward to us by our peers, family, or at the workplace by our superiors. We choose to take up more jobs than we can efficiently handle and put unnecessary stress on ourselves even at the cost of our time and well-being. Must we always do that? 

Why is it so hard to say 'No'?

People have the notion that saying 'No' can come across as rude or uncaring. You may feel that you are letting someone down by turning down their request or risking a relationship. But, it has mostly to do with your self-confidence than your relationships with people. It may branch from overbearing parents, high expectations set by your peers and mentors or experiencing parenthood yourself and setting unreasonable standards for yourself. Childhood influences are usually the biggest cause of people always saying ‘yes’ all the time.

People who have low self-confidence tend to value their own needs less than the needs of others. Saying 'No' feels rude, and no one wants to be impolite.

Well... saying 'No' does not mean you are being rude or disagreeable.

At the end of the day, it is more about how you say 'no', rather than just saying the word 'No'. Saying 'No' is about valuing and respecting your own time and priorities. 

How to start saying say 'No'?
If you want to take a step back and start saying 'No' to make sure your own needs are valued, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Refuse politely, when it seems not possible: Do not overcomplicate responses and try to be as simple in your responses as you can be. If you are asked to do something, and you want to say 'no', try to be polite in your body language and state that it is not convenient for you at the moment and that you would rather get back to it later.
  2. Seek time before committing: The transition from saying ‘yes’ all the time to saying no does take time! Start to give yourself more time and ask people to get back to you later. This way you can begin to build more self-confidence and learn to say no over time. This also allows you to evaluate your response instead of immediately saying yes or no to the person asking the favor or task.
  3. Do not feel guilty: Deep down if you want to do a favor, you can go ahead with it, but you should also understand that it is okay to say no, and there is no need to associate guilt with it. You should set boundaries and allow people around you to understand how much favors they can ask you for instead of presenting you with an endless amount of favors from you.
  4. Set your boundaries: Refusal does not amount to rejection as you have just as much right to say ‘no’ as the person who is asking the favor from you. You are simply turning down a request, and in most situations, there is a middle ground for compromises where both you and the requester can be satisfied. If you have limited time to fulfill a request, let the person know and help out only as much as you can without overstepping your boundaries.

Bringing in these changes can help you be more self-confident, and at the same time enable you to say no when you need to without weighing yourself down with expectations and fear or rejection.

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