General / Of All Ages / Relationships / Society

How to Say No

Sometimes it’s hard to stop saying “yes” to other people’s request, offers or invitations, even when deep down you want to reject them. The guilt from not helping out or accommodating the needs of others often overcome the priorities of maintaining your wellbeing, and sometimes even lead to exhaustion, burnouts, resentment and bitter feelings. Here are a few tips you can try to say “no” without feeling bad or risking offense.


Make Rules

Rules serve two functions here: to remind you of why you should say no, and to use as impersonal reasons that you can give to others when a request comes. This way, you can say no without singling out the person. For example, if a friend asks to borrow your camera, you can tell them that you don’t lend anything that costs over $500.


Propose Alternatives

Offer to help in other ways to let them know you care. This is great especially if you have to say no to a close friend or family member. For instance, if you can’t make your sister-in-law’s baby shower, you can say, “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it, but I would love to meet up next week at brunch if you’d like.”


Indicate Other Commitments

Another impersonal way of saying no is mentioning other commitments that take up your time and render you unavailable. In other words, “I’m booked on those dates.”


Show Your Appreciation

Sometimes help is offered out of courtesy (organising bachelorette’s party, bringing extra food to the party) but ends up being a burden to you (wild nights are not your idea of fun, and the food doesn’t match the theme of the party). Acknowledge the good intentions, then let them know that while their generosity does not go unnoticed, you’ll have to reject it for now. This way, you can let them know they have done their best and relax a bit.


Just Say No

Sometimes, a stern, clear rejection without embellishments could be the best. Saying something like “I’ll have to pass” or “it’s not going to work for me” would often suffice with acquaintances.


Which one is your way?