How To Say No

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Stop feeling guilty about saying no

Let’s say a colleague or friend asks you to help with an urgent project. You just can’t bring yourself to let them down, despite having mountains of work to do yourself.

For most of us it is a natural response to be as helpful and accommodating as possible whenever we are asked for help.

But too often the urge to say yes comes from a lack of self confidence — the fear of being disliked, criticised, or risking a relationship.

To be confident you must stop feeling guilty about saying no.

You are not being negative or unhelpful, and don’t worry about what other people will think of you.

You can say no assertively, diplomatically and positively.

People will respect you for it.



Stop saying yes when you want to say no

We often feel pressured to respond to new request immediately, although this is rarely necessary.

Be assertive and give yourself time to think.

Try saying this

‘I can’t give you answer right now but I will let you know when and if I can help.’

Always ask yourself these questions before you give a response.

Is this something that I really want to do?

Is this something that I should be doing?

Is this my role or responsibility?

Will I regret saying yes to this?

Is this person trying to take advantage of me?

How will this effect my other priorities?

If you decide that you can’t or don’t want to say yes to a request, that’s OK.



Say no assertively, diplomatically and positively

If you decide that you do not want to say yes to a request, here is how you say no firmly but diplomatically.

Be polite

‘Thanks for the offer, I would like to help but I can’t’

Give a brief, honest explanation

‘…because I have other commitments’

Suggest a solution or alternative

‘Have you thought about asking Jane? She’s good with maths!’



There is nothing wrong with saying no

People will respect you for standing up for yourself and establishing clear boundaries.

If they continue to push, stand firm and repeat your response.