It can be very tough to be able to say no to people without hurting their feelings, you know. What should you say? What shouldn’t you say? Should you even say it? There have been many times where you’ve contemplated not saying no, right?

But the truth is, whether or not you should say no is something that is completely up to you. I mean, helping people is one thing, but to let them walk all over you isn’t healthy, you know. Plus, if "helping" people is giving you a hard time or isn’t making you happy, then why do it, right? It is in circumstances like these you have to learn to say no. Then again, saying no outright is difficult, so how about we teach you ways of saying no without really saying no?

How to Say No Without Saying It

This is a boon for those of you who feel bad after saying no, or feel too shy or awkward about refusing to help people in the first place!

“Oh yes, sure. Here’s what I can do for you:” From the get go, this lets you control how much and in what capacity you want to help the other person. It also shows them that they shouldn’t be asking you for any more help.


“Gimme some time, please. My schedule’s swamped for the next two weeks and I’d hate to commit to something and then back out of it at the very last moment. Especially if it’s something for you, Joe.”


“Aww, I would have loved too. But just yesterday my mom told me that I’ve been hanging out way too much and I need to focus more on my studies. Guess whose free time has been slashed down to almost zero?”


“My coach/teacher made me promise to spend more time helping out the juniors who are struggling, so even though I want to help you, my hands are tied.”


“Unfortunately, that date clashes with my daughter’s soccer practice, and you know how she can get when I skip her practices.”


“Unfortunately, that date clashes with my daughter’s soccer practice, and you know how she can get when I skip her practices.”


“I feel so honored that you’d think of me to help as a substitute, but I won’t be able to make it to the event this month.”


“Hey, how about we involve a new set of volunteers this year? That way senior citizens like us can get a breather.”


“Sorry but ever since my mother was diagnosed with [insert illness], it has been one terrible day after another with the visits to doctors, medical stores and what not. I do not have enough time or energy to devote myself to other tasks.” Sometimes when it comes to how to say no, if you’re going through something, then it’s better to let everybody know what you’re going through rather than keeping it away from them and letting them think you’re avoiding them.


“I appreciate you asking me, but I don’t think it’s in my field of expertise.”


“I appreciate you asking me, but I won’t be able to help you out this time.”


“I appreciate you asking me, but I don’t think I’ll be able to help you this month. How about I help you the next time instead?”


"Wow, that's an interesting project. I'm unfortunately already bogged down with X assignment and I can’t go back on my commitment.”


“I appreciate you asking me, but I promised myself to devote my time to [insert any important chore or family responsibility]. Maybe next time!”


“I can’t help you move, but I can definitely ask around and see if someone can help you instead of me.” The exchange works well with those you don’t wanna offend by indirectly saying no. To placate them, an exchange is the best trick under your belt.


Maintain silence. Sometimes, the easiest way not to drum up any drama is to simply ignore someone’s request.


“Oh, these dates aren’t working for me. You got something else?” Hopefully, they won’t have more dates to offer you, and you’ll be in the clear. This is one of the most non-confrontational ways on how to say no without hurting or offending the other party.


“Thanks, but I’ll have to pass on that.”


“I really wish I could, but I have a rule of not lending money to friends. I lost a very good friend because of this and I don’t want to lose you either.”


"Sorry but I have a personal rule of not lending anybody any stuff that’s over $50. Been burnt in the past and I don’t want that to happen to me again.”


"A party’s a great idea, but what if we spend that money on XYZ instead? I know for a fact that we’ll enjoy it more!”


“I don’t know Jack personally, so I’ll wish him in person on his birthday.” A perfect response to when you’re asked to chip in money for a colleague’s party, someone you’ve barely known for a week.


“I’m honored you’d want my advice, but I only give it during office hours. Why don’t you meet me tomorrow at 10 for an appointment?” A perfect response for those who want your advice for free.

Don’t Look Back

Now that you know how to say no without really saying it, it’s time you know that you need to stick to your guns. Regret is not going to help you, you know. Neither will guilt. You stood up to that one person for a reason, right? Remember that reason every time you feel like going back on your word. Remember how doing favors for people, or just saying yes to everything they say, always manages to backfire for you. You also need to tell yourself that your health and peace of mind take priority over keeping others happy. And that too for tasks that can easily be performed by literally any person on the planet!

Stay strong, my friend!


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