Why many people don’t know how to say no politely
In general, people often don’t know how to say no politely when asked to do something, attend an event or party, or something as simple as visiting a friend. The most trying part of not saying no is that you may be asked to do something you don’t want to do. You run the risk of being taken advantage of, not to mention the undue stress caused to yourself because you really wanted to say no.
So why do we feel we need to say yes when we want to say no? Maybe it’s the fear of not being liked, the need to make others happy, or the need to please. It is a feeling of guilt that is more overpowering than having enough respect for ourselves and to say no honestly with no regrets.
How to say no politely
When asked to do anything that you genuinely do not want to do or participate in, keep the following in mind:
- You have every right to say no.
- Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. When you always say yes, you set yourself up as the person that everyone goes to when they need something done.
- Saying no is not rude. Use a calm voice, and politely say, “No.”
- You do not need a reason or an excuse for saying no.
- Don’t lie. Lying will most likely lead to guilt—and remember, this is what you are trying to avoid feeling.
- Have respect for your needs. When you already have plans or goals set for yourself, do not feel guilt in saying no.
- Even when someone continues to pursue asking you for that favor after saying no, stick with your answer. Repeat it as many times as you have to until the person understands that you really mean no.
- Don’t say, “I’ll think about it” if you don’t want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed.
How to say no politely to your boss
There is great fear in saying no to your boss; however, respect is a two-way street. When respect is given, respect is received. So what do you do if your boss asks you to complete a task that will turn your schedule upside down or even cause you to work late when you had after-work plans?
It’s important to be flexible in the workplace, but not by losing your respect. Here are some respectful ways of saying no, without really using the word ‘no’:
- Share your priority list with your boss. Explain to your boss the other priorities you have for the day, and ask where his or her task fits in with the work that was already given to you.
- Have your boss decide what will be done and what will have to wait until tomorrow.
- If your boss insists that everything is a priority, explain that your best work may not be done when divided amongst all those tasks within the time frame given.
- Provide an alternative to your boss, that the task he or she wants done can’t be completed by you today, but you can work on it first thing in the morning. Or suggest that someone else in the office can provide support to your boss.
Most importantly, whether it’s a friend, co-worker, parent, or boss that asks you to do something, saying no does not require any justification or reasoning. Keeping your response short will prove to the person asking you for something that you are honest, credible, and respectful.
How to say no politely to friends and family
There may be times where you need to say no in the present, but you would like to keep your options open if you think you may change your mind. Here are four simple ways to nicely say no with the opportunity to say yes later if you choose to:
- “That sounds like so much fun!”
- “That sounds like a great idea! You should begin pursuing that.”
- “I would love to help you right now, but I can’t. Maybe next time.”
- “Wow, I’m flattered that you asked me, but this is not a good time for me at the moment.”
- “I would love to help you, but maybe ____ can assist you?”
- “I’m unable to help you at this moment, have you considered _____?”
How to say no politely and with tact
Having self-respect means that you don’t always have to say yes, and there may be times that no is the only option. Avoid pressuring yourself and allowing stress to take over your day by saying “no” with tact. It keeps your confidence up and allows others to have respect for you.
- Be firm. It is not necessary to be overly apologetic or defensive with your response. As long as you keep an even tone in your voice, and be polite, your response will be taken with respect.
- Don’t build false hopes. If you mean no, stick to it. Don’t give the person asking any options that you may change your mind.
- Don’t promise to get back to the person if your intention will still be to say no. Building a false promise can decrease your credibility.
- If you are unsure if you can say assist or attend a function, say, no. It is easier to say no from the beginning than saying “yes” and having to rescind your agreement.
- If you are asked for an explanation when you say no, remember that this is not something that you have to do. Stick with no.
Then there are times that you cannot say no. Saying yes may be the only wise choice in a particular situation. Here are some examples of when saying yes is unavoidable:
- Inform the person asking you for help or to do something, that you will help him or her this time, but in the future you would prefer more notice so you can plan your day.
- Let the person know that he or she now owes you one, when you agree to help him or her with a situation. There is no shame in that. This is showing that you respect yourself.
- Provide the person doing the asking that you will get back to him or her with a timeframe of when that task can be completed, after you check your schedule.
- Be honest about how much time you have left in your day, and that is all that you can offer in assistance. This way you are helping, but still respecting your time as well.
Saying no can be the most challenging thing you may have to do. It is difficult for many people, especially those with low self-esteem.
When you have low self-esteem, you often lack the assertiveness needed to say no. This in turn makes you feel that you have to meet everyone’s expectations or you won’t be accepted.
It is hard to set boundaries with others. To avoid this feeling of being ashamed, guilty, or fearful, we are often quick to say yes without thinking the situation through until later when the stress and unhappiness set in. You may begin to feel used and resentful of the person.
You always have the right to say no when saying yes is not beneficial to you. Learning to say no is not easy, but it can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. It can also be the best thing to do for the ones around you that you love. Your stress level will be low, and you can enjoy the things you really wanted to do.
If dealing with pushy people that will keep asking you for something even after you have said no causes you more guilt, continue to remain firm in your answer. If you cannot stand firm at that time, then simply say you need to think about the request and get back to them. This will give you time to think and build your courage to stand up for yourself in respect. It’s a tactic that will diminish the feeling of being pressured into doing something you do not want to do.
Saying no is perfectly acceptable. This is something you should remember when you think how to say no politely. You should always consider the time you are already committed to regarding your career and personal life when you are asked to do something or attend something for someone else. No matter the situation, realize that your time is valuable, and there is only so much that you can do in a day. Take a look at what you will be giving up if you commit to others you did not want to commit to.
Some main points that you should remember about how to say no politely are:
- You are standing up for yourself as a person by stating how you feel.
- You are the sole proprietor of your time and your life.
- Saying no is not a sign of your weakness. It is a sign of your strength.
- Know your abilities and limitations when taking on more.
- You always deserve to have time to yourself and not take on more than you can handle physically or emotionally.
- Feel good in your honesty and respect for yourself.
Remind yourself of these things regularly. Always know that it is okay to say no when you have to. No one is living your life and taking care of your responsibilities, so don’t feel the pressure of having to please anyone else. Please yourself first; it will make you a better person to others.