How to Say “No” With Confidence

Every day, it seems, somebody wants our help. We may be approached by family, friends, school, the workplace or any number of organizations or interest groups. Many of us feel obligated to say “yes” straight away, often to our own detriment. We can end up taking on too much work, or find ourselves getting involved with someone’s complex personal issues. For our mental well-being, we need to be able to say “no” occasionally without guilt or regret. Here are some simple strategies that should make it easier to do so.

The best and quickest way is a plain “no”. Don’t get bogged down explaining why you can’t do the task. If you say “I’d love to, but…” when you’d really rather not, then extra pressure could be put on you to change your mind. There is nothing worse than having to undertake a task under duress. This can easily lead you to be anxious, stressed or even clinically depressed. Be aware of your abilities and set your limits accordingly.

It’s always a good idea not to get rushed into making any immediate decision. Why not say, “Let me think about that and I’ll get back to you”. This gives you time to make a careful and considered assessment of the request. If you do decide to go ahead and help, that’s fine. If you decide not to help, that’s also fine. You’ll need to make your choice very clear and final to the person or group concerned.

Never let yourself feel guilty for making a “no” decision. You are more than entitled to the reasons why you can’t help. You may be too busy and can’t take anything else on, or you wouldn’t be comfortable doing the request asked of you. Maybe you desperately need some quiet r & r, or maybe the answer is just – no. It can be as simple as that. If you wish, you could suggest someone else (a more suitable person or organization, etc.) who may be more qualified to assist. You could even offer to personally pass the request on. Either way, the matter is out of your hands, so relax!

It’s great to be needed, but occasionally your personal involvement is not always possible. You may wish to mull over the request for help first, or perhaps you know someone better positioned to assist. Maybe you are too busy, or you need time out from your own crazy schedule. Maybe you just don’t want to do whatever is asked of you. In that case and to remove any confusion, always be kind yet firm when declining your assistance so everyone knows exactly where they stand on the matter. If the person asking for your help is offended by your decision, that’s their own choice and not your responsibility. Ultimately, only you can make the best judgement – but don’t be surprised one day if someone says “no” to your own request for help. Just like you, they probably have a very good reason to do so!  By Eccentric Aunt