10 Ways to Say “NO!”

by Lori Spensieri

**Disclaimer. There may be affiliate links within this article. This means that there may be advertisement links, when clicked and a purchase is made, I may attain a commission at no cost to the reader**

Life is busy. We all have people to care for, tasks to complete, jobs to do and personal goals to work toward. It is not uncommon to find yourself being asked for help. Some very common requests from others include;

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  • A loan of money.
  • To borrow something that you own (folding table, lawnmower or specialized equipment).
  • To attend a party, an event or ‘happy hour’ after work.
  • To help them move.
  • To use your larger vehicle to help them ship or move something.
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Learn to Say no.
Learning to say, “NO!” to requests that you can not oblige, is a great skill to obtain.

Two kinds of people. Which are you?

In the world there are two kinds of people: Takers and Givers. If you don’t know which one you are then I am sorry to say, you are likely a Taker. The takers are not bad people. Please don’t get me wrong here.

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The Takers are the ones whom when in need, automatically look around for who can help them. The Givers are looking for opportunities to help someone else.

Click here for a TED talk called “Are you a Giver or a Taker” by Adam Grant. It sheds light on the entire concept.

Or…Click here for a quiz that tests whether you are a Giver or a Taker.

Click here for an article called, “Get Happier Today”. Don’t you want to be happier?

10 Ways to Say “NO!”

1. Simply say, “No Thank You!” Declining is OK. You don’t even have to give a reason. Telling the person-requesting-your-presence that you will be opting out of this one is completely acceptable, both socially and realistically. No one can attend everything. You are not going to miss anything by being true to yourself.

2. Take a rain-check. This one is a little easier since you aren’t simply declining. You are saying that you can not attend this one but you will be able to do the next one for sure. This is a bit of insurance that you will be invited to the next one (if this is something that is of concern to you).

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3. Offer an Alternative. Tell the person that you can not lend them the money or your car. You can not attend that event, but perhaps that person could ask John or Linda. Try to make this as sincere of a suggestion as possible. You are not trying to pawn off your problem to someone else. You are not trying to throw anyone under the bus. You are simply solving the problem with a suitable suggestion. You can even make it sound like the other option is actually a better one.

This is so true. Do not fill your days with things and people that don’t light up your passion. Just say NO!

4. Give an Excuse. Say no by telling the person why you can not oblige. Tell them what your current existing plans are. Tell them why you can not lend your laptop to them or whatever the favour request may be. Perhaps you need the laptop for a project. Perhaps you have already promised it to your little sister. Give your excuse and stick with it.

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5. Give an Deflected Explanation. Tell the person the reason that you don’t want to attend, or help out is because last time it did not go well. Last time you leant money, it was not returned. The last time you helped that group with their presentation they didn’t do their share. Be honest. Give your reason.

You can roll the dice on a decision, although you shoudl know what answer youa re going to give. Saying “NO!” is completely OK.

6. Say “Maybe”. The person who is requesting from you is looking for something. Perhaps they want a ride or a favour. Whatever it is, once you have given a maybe response, than the requester will likely make a mental note to keep you in mind but they will likely find other options. This is ideal.

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7. Recognize the difference between an opportunity and a distraction. This starts by being aware of your own personal and/or professional ‘mission’. If you know your purpose then you can more easily say “No” when someone asks you to do something that is a distraction to your mission. I like to do this by telling people that my mission is to do ‘A’ and as interesting as their idea is, it’s not something that fits with what I do.

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8. Obligation. We all have obligations. Some of us have more obligations. Some of us have obligations that are more demanding. You can use your obligations as an excuse to decline an invitation that you would rather not accept. These obligations could include; an aging parent, your children, your spouse, dinner needing to be prepared, other chores, prepping for work and so many more. Just think and be creative if you have to.

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9. “I don’t do that”. Just tell them that the request is something that you do not do. Whether they are asking you to lend them your car or perhaps they are requesting that you volunteer your time to make treats for a bake sale. If you ‘don’t lend out your car’, or ‘don’t bake’ it is simple. They can not expect for you to do something that you simply don’t do. 

10. Use “I Don’t know”. When you are confronted with a request that you would rather not oblige, say “I don’t know.” Claiming ignorance of your availability or your ability to comply with the request does two things. First, it buys time and second it allows the requester to accept the possibility that you will not be able to complete the request.

You have the tools now.

Ok, now that you have the tools you have no reason to do things that you do not want to do. Set up some guidelines for yourself so that you will find yourself less often in a position where you don’t know what to do, or say. Do not let people catch you off-guard. Have a couple of one-liners ready. Saying ‘no’ is ok. It does not make you a bad person. It does not make you selfish.

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What it means is that you have clear personal priorities. It means that you care about your own well-being before other people. This is OK. It is impossible to give from an empty pot. Giving constantly leaves you drained and empty. Just like in the example of the a mother on an airplane. If the oxygen masks fall down, she is to put her own on first. She can not help her child if she cannot breathe.

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Here are some istances where someone may request something from you. Create a response in your mind that you can use in the future.

  1. Your friend approaches you 10 minutes before quitting time. She wants you to come to a restaurant across the street after work for ‘an hour or two’ to catch up. You would rather not. You have a presentation tomorow morning and you could benefit form the extra prep time and the extra rest. What do you say?
  2. The boss asks you to take on an extra independent project. If will not result in more pay or a promotion. You can tell that this is work that was deligated to him by someone else and now he is deligating to you. This extra job does not fit in with your professional or personal goals. What do you say?
  3. You are on Instagram and a well-known company asks you to be a brand ambassador. You do not really have time for this extra work. How do you say no?
Grab the book and get happier today.

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Eh! Be Positive Everyone!

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