How to Learn to Say No: 14 Steps - wikiHow

Опубликовал Admin
18-01-2023, 19:10
Many people struggle with saying, "No." If someone asks you for a favor or a commitment, you may feel obligated to say "Yes." Remember, just because you can do something does not mean it is required. Work on considering the best ways to say "No." Think about things like your personal boundaries and the situation at hand. When saying "No," do so in a polite manner that makes your boundaries clear. Work on avoiding guilt after saying "No." Understand you always have a right to turn down an invitation or refuse a favor. It's okay to make yourself and your mental health a priority.

Considering How to Say No

  1. Give yourself permission to say no. Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to say "Yes" when they're asked to do someone a favor. Keep in mind, you are never required to say "Yes." It's actually okay to say "No" sometimes. Accept this as you prepare to say "No" to someone. This will help you say "No" with ease.
    • If you never say "No," this can have negative consequences. You can enable someone who relies too much on you for favors. You can also burn out on your own end and lose focus.
    • If you say "No" too often, you may miss out on things that may be good for you. If you're overcommitted doing things you don't want to do, you won't have much time left for yourself.
    • Make time for the things you really enjoy rather than saying "Yes" as a knee-jerk response. If you, say, agreed to help a friend move all weekend, you may have to turn down an invitation to go on a weekend hiking trip with another group of friends.
  2. Establish your personal boundaries. It's always easier to say "No" if you have a reason. However, that reason does not have to be concrete. Many people think if they can do something, they should. Your reason for saying "No" can be a simple matter of your own personal boundaries. Think about what boundaries you have, and embrace the fact you're allowed to stay true to them.
    • Consider what you are reasonably able to do, and what you actually enjoy doing. You can say "No" to things that drain you or distract you. You can set specific boundaries regarding what you will and will not agree to do.
    • For example, maybe you value solitude. You can set a boundary that you won't go out two nights each weekend. You can use this boundary as a reason for saying "No." For instance, "I would love to go out with you Saturday, but I have plans Friday. I never go out two nights in a row because I get too tired."
    • You can also set boundaries in regards to personal commitments. You can, for example, have a rule that you only volunteer for two charity events per month if this is reasonable for you given your schedule.
  3. Be aware of potential persuasion techniques. People often won't take "No" for an answer. If you say "No" to someone, they may use persuasion techniques to try and change your mind. Be aware of potential persuasion techniques so you can establish a firm offense.
    • People may try to guilt you into doing something to reciprocate a favor. Remember, just because someone did you a favor does not mean you owe them. Friends do not keep score.
    • People may also ask twice. If you say "No" to one thing, they may try to get you to agree to a smaller commitment or favor. Remember to be firm. Keep saying "No."
    • A person may also try to get you to do something by comparing you to other people. They may say another person agreed to help. You are not another person. You do not have to do something simply because someone else did.
  4. Practice saying "No." It may sound silly, but you can actually practice saying "No" alone. Try standing before a mirror and looking at yourself. Practice giving a firm, "No" to someone so you get comfortable with the words. Many people are nervous about saying "No" and may say "Yes" due to anxiety. Practicing can help quell some of this anxiety.

Saying No

  1. Ask for more time before committing. Your knee-jerk response to being asked for a favor may be to say "Yes." Make a habit of not giving an automatic "Yes" all the time. When asked to do something, instead respond with, "I'll think about it" or "Can I get back to you on that? I'd like to, but I might have something scheduled."
    • Saying "I'll think about it" will usually get the person off your back. This will give you time to genuinely consider your response.
    • After agreeing to think something over, you can decide later whether or not you agree. If you decide against doing something, you can give a firm "No" later.
    • For example, a friend asks if you'll watch her cat over the holiday weekend. Say, "I have to look over my schedule. Let me think about it."
  2. Start with a compliment or gratitude. While you should be firm when saying "No," you'll also feel better if you're polite. When letting someone down, soften the blow by starting with a compliment. Express gratitude at having been asked or invited.
    • For example, "I'm glad you feel comfortable asking me to watch Bella. It means a lot knowing that you trust me with your cat because I know how much you care about her."
  3. Give a clear "No." After the initial kindness, you can say "No." Be firm here. You want to make it clear you are giving a firm "No" so the person does not press the issue or ask you again.
    • For example, "I just don't really have the time to run back and forth from your place this weekend. I already have a lot of plans with family."
  4. Thank and encourage the person. You want to leave things on a good note. You can be firm without being rude or aggressive. Thank the person for thinking of you, and wish them good luck.
    • For example, "Again, I'm glad to know you trust me with Bella. Good luck finding someone else to watch her."

Avoiding Guilt

  1. Examine any reasons you avoid saying "No." If you need to learn to say "No," you may avoid it by habit. Think about any underlying reasons you may be uncomfortable turning someone down. This can help you identify how your inability to say "No" may be irrational.
    • Maybe you're a people pleaser by nature. You may not want to upset other people.
    • You may also avoid confrontation. Even a small confrontation may be stressful for you.
    • You may also worry about making people angry. You may irrationally feel people will not like you if you say "No."
  2. Keep in mind that you do not need a reason to say “No.” Some people feel like they have to have a good reason to say no, but this is not the case. If you do not want to do something, then you don’t have to do it. Try to remind yourself of this in situations where you can’t think of a reason to say no.
    • For example, if a friend invites you to see a concert with him or her and you simply don’t like live music, then say so. Try saying, “No thanks. I am not a fan of live music, so I am going to sit this one out.”
    • Or, if someone invites you out on a night when you just don’t feel like going anywhere, then try saying, "You know, I really don't feel like coming out tonight, maybe another time."
  3. Accept that boundaries are personal and subjective. You need to embrace your own boundaries to work on saying "No." Boundaries are personal, and usually subjective. It's okay if your boundaries are different from someone else's. Be comfortable with your own boundaries and allow yourself to stand by them.
    • Boundaries are a projection of who you are. Therefore, there is no inherent value in boundaries. Your boundaries are not better or worse than another person's.
    • Never compare your boundaries to someone else's. You may, for example, feel guilty that a co-worker is more eager to go to noisy bars for work parties. This is simply off limits to you.
    • Your co-worker may be more extroverted or less shy than you. This is okay. It's okay for you to say "No" to such events, even if others don't, as they violate your personal boundaries.
  4. Don't look back after giving an answer. If you tend to ruminate over decisions, this can make saying "No" more difficult. After saying "No," accept your decision and move forward.
    • Focus on how good you feel. If you said "No" to something potentially draining or stressful, you should feel relieved.
    • Prioritize your positive feelings about saying "No." Try to push out feelings of guilt.
  5. Understand saying "No" can help you avoid resentment. Saying "Yes" too often could lead to resentment. If you're a people pleaser by nature, you may say "Yes" more frequently than is healthy. If you, for example, agree to help every time a friend needs a favor, you may begin to resent that friend. While you may feel temporarily guilty over saying "No," it's better to deal with momentary guilt than to risk tanking a valuable relationship.
  6. Work on building up your self-worth. Part of the reason why some people struggle to say “no” is because they don’t feel like their wants and needs are as important as other people’s wants and needs. To avoid feeling guilty from saying “no,” try to work on building up your self-worth. Some strategies that you might try include:
    • Writing a list of your strengths.
    • Using positive self-talk to encourage yourself.
    • Exploring your interests and making time for yourself.
    • Avoiding comparing yourself to other people.
    • Setting realistic goals for yourself.


  • Try saying "no" to small things, then work your way up to saying "no" to bigger things.
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