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How to Say No in a Positive Fashion

Sometimes it can be tough saying no when you are asked to carry out a favor. If you do not have the time, energy or will to assist you may wish to say you cannot help, but feel guilty. Perhaps constant pressure to assist someone is making you annoyed or ill. Learning how to say no in a manner that is non-offensive but direct can be useful.

Everyone has moments in their life when they feel pressure to do more than they feel capable of doing, or just more than they want to do. Perhaps they are put upon by a needy neighbor, or their friends and relatives are so used to them helping that they have come to expect assistance from them.

If this happens to you, it is probable that you feel tired, have low self-confidence and are fed-up with being used. You may not mind helping someone who is in genuine need, and enjoy doing so, but when someone seems to require your assistance all the time and never seeks an alternative option it’s likely that you’ll want to change matters.

Saying no can be hard when people lean on you. You may feel guilty about not wanting to help, or angry and annoyed. Alternatively, you may suffer from a low self-esteem and know that you need to stand-up for yourself and begin saying no.

There are many ways you can tell someone that you are not prepared to do their bidding. Some ways may be spoken so timidly that they are not taken seriously. Other ways may accidentally come across as defensive and aggressive, especially if you do not know how to make a confident stand in a well-balanced manner. The following are examples of positive ways to say no:

I will not be able to help this time, but I hope you find assistance elsewhere.

This answer expresses concern, but lets people know there is no leeway involved.

I am sorry but I cannot. Good luck.

Again, this answer states a definite ‘no’, but should not cause offence.

Unfortunately, I am unable.

This answer is simple and easy to comprehend.

The three examples above are kept short and are straight to the point. If you have ever tried saying no and failed because you ended-up giving in, it is likely that your response was not definite, and left room for the person making the request to muscle in. The following are negative examples of ways to say no which are best avoided.

I want to help but I have to go shopping, (or complete some other task).

This way of saying no looks okay at first glance, but if you examine it closer you will be able to see there are flaws. Saying that you want to help may sound nice and friendly, but it gives the other person hope that you will do so. Stating the reason why you cannot help is also a bad idea. Perhaps they will ask you to shop for them too, and help them with their initial request when you return.

I am ill, too tired, busy at work, and so on…

Making an excuse instead of being straightforward can lead to repercussions where you end-up telling lies in order to backup your initial story.

Saying no may not always be easy, but if you remember to keep your answer short, be definite and not offer unnecessary information the task will be achievable without too much trouble.

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Comments (1)

These are really good advice. Thanks for sharing. 

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