How to Say “No” Without Making Enemies
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. “ – Bill Cosby
You just said yes to something you did not want to do. Again. And why? Because you did not want to appear rude or make the other person angry. It’s not in your nature to be confrontational. And even though you sometimes feel used, or could kick yourself for being such a pushover, it’s too stressful to just say no
You’re Too Nice
You always put yourself last and people expect that. But you are tired of trying to please everybody. It’s time for a change. And that change begins when you decide your time has value. No one can do that for you. Once you acknowledge that your personal responsibilities take priority, saying no to new commitments becomes that much easier.
Fortunately there are several ways to decline a request when you…
Don’t Want to Alienate
Your pushy neighbor appoints you to coordinate a fund raiser for a worthy cause she is sponsoring. It’s an enormous responsibility you don’t have the time or inclination to undertake. On the other hand you don’t want to cause bad feelings between the two of you.
Solution: In this case it may be easier to decline while offering an alternative. Say no to the request. “I’d love to but I can’t do it at this time. I don’t have time in my schedule to give this the attention it deserves”. Then offer to do whatever part you feel you can handle. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into helping further. Only you know and can protect your limits.
Don’t Want to Anger
When it comes to family you are the “go to” person. You are expected to get things done. But when it comes to making you responsible for planning and coordinating your sister’s wedding…it is just too much. And though you don’t want the family angry with you, you resent being the one everyone dumps on.
Solution: This is your opportunity to redefine your role without being defensive or argumentative. “I am flattered that you gave this awesome role to me but it is too much to take on alone. So I’m going to have to say no”. Avoid the stress of feeling guilty by offering to discuss alternatives. “I’ll tell you what. If you can get our relatives to pitch in I’ll be more than happy to do my part”. You can put your needs first and still be agreeable.
Just Can’t Say “No”
Your coworker manipulates others to do the lions share on his projects. Now it’s your turn. You tell him you will think about it. But the last thing you want to do is help someone who won’t carry his own weight. You have enough work to do.
Solution: Don’t put off the inevitable. When you know you are not interested in the proposition, don’t waste everyone’s time with “Let me think about it”. Let him know you already have a full plate. “’I’d like to help you out but it is simply impossible at this time. I am swamped with my own projects”. Don’t make up excuses. And don’t leave room for further discussion. Respect that you have a right to say no when the request is not in your best interest.
At the end of the day you will feel better with the new assertive you. Less stressed and more in control of your time. You found ways to say no without appearing rude or alienating family and friends. And best of all the people who matter still like you. Even when you say no.