Learning to Say No Without Guilt

Jan 13, 2015 8:30:00 AM Michelle Monette Communicating

learning_to_say_noI’m a recovering people pleaser. For years, I found it nearly impossible to say no to anyone.  I was afraid that if I said no, I wouldn’t be liked, or I’d be seen as selfish, or I would feel guilty.  As a consequence, I frequently found myself feeling overcommitted, frustrated and resentful. It took me a long time to learn a skill that’s really pretty simple. 

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Remember that when you decline a request, it’s just that, nothing more. You’re not rejecting the person, you’re just saying no to the request.   And it works both ways.  If someone else says no your request, it’s not a rejection of you as a person. Don’t take it personally.

  • Be firm. Don’t be wishy-washy, or the person will feel like they might be able to pressure you into changing your mind. If you feel a need to explain, give an honest but brief reason for declining.   “I don’t have time right now,” is a perfectly legitimate reason for saying no.  

  • Be polite. Thank the person for thinking of you.

  • Negotiate. Maybe the project sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, but you don’t want to overcommit. You can offer to play a smaller role. For example, you might not be willing to be in charge of a project, but you can offer to help out in way that feels right to you.  

  • Delay. If you’re really unsure, ask for time to think about it.  If it’s something you might like to do, but you need a little time to decide, it’s perfectly okay to say so.  But don’t string the person along.  Let them know when you’ll have an answer, and stick to it.  And if you’re still not sure, you should probably say no.  

Remember, learning to say no is just like any other skill. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. 

 Check Out All Upcoming  Courses & Events