How to learn to say “no” - stop being afraid and embarrassed to refuse once and for all

These people are always ready to help. Abandon your plans to please relatives, stay late at work, fulfilling a colleague’s request, helping the suffering and saving those in trouble. These people are extremely eco-friendly and friendly to others. Because they never refuse. But hardly anyone thinks about what this help costs them. After all, often reliable people do this not because they want to earn another plus in their karma, but because they simply do not know how to refuse. How to learn to say no and not feel guilty for it? If this question is relevant to you, this article will be useful to you. Its purpose is to show how important it is to realize the value of your own efforts and time spent.

The ability to say no is a valuable skill that helps you build an invisible defense around yourself that protects you from manipulators. Therefore, if you are still tormented by feelings of guilt and uncertainty after refusing help, you have something to work on.

Why don't people know how to refuse?

The inability to say “no” is associated with the fear of ruining relationships - most often people tend to follow the needs of another person contrary to their desires , rather than refuse. We are afraid of seeming impolite, however, when we act to the detriment of our own interests, we suffer not only morally, but also physically. Working for the interests of others over and over again, a person loses self-confidence, self-esteem falls, vitality decreases and the feeling of a consumer attitude towards oneself does not leave.

Most often, the reason for this behavior is banal fear, which can be divided into four types:

  • fear of offending a person;
  • fear of being refused if you have to ask for something yourself;
  • fear of losing respect;
  • fear of appearing rude or ill-mannered.

All these stereotypes are formed in people from early childhood and only become stronger throughout later life. But if you put aside emotions, it becomes clear that an adequate person will accept your refusal with understanding and this will not affect your further communication in any way. Especially if you have the ability to refuse correctly - without making excuses and at the same time without seeming too impolite. Below we will look at how to do this, but for now let’s discuss why it is so important to learn to say no to people?

Just start, it will get easier over time

The more often you say “no,” the more experience you gain and the easier it becomes to say no in the future. Gradually, you will develop your own algorithms for a firm but polite refusal. And in the process, you will find out for sure that saying “no” at the right time has many more positive consequences than it seems.

“I’m a recruiter, and because of my job I have to turn people down several times a week. When I first started, it was difficult. But after some time, it completely ceased to be painful: fortunately, any type of behavior can be learned, you just need to train,” says Ivan.

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What can the inability to refuse lead to?

Reliability can play a cruel joke on you over time: people will begin to perceive your kindness as weakness or softness and will begin to use it for their own purposes as necessary, and sometimes even try to shift most of the work onto your shoulders. Treat your own time with respect if you want others to respect you.

Most often, by saying “yes” where we could and should have said “no”, we are subconsciously trying to please, to maintain a warm relationship with a person, although often such sacrifices are not worth it . In most situations, refusal is a way to set personal boundaries.

Take a look at your own life from the outside, evaluate how much time you spend on yourself, and how much on strangers and serving their interests . Do you have free time that you can devote to your hobbies? If you have a strong feeling that people too often turn to you for “help” and you are unable to refuse (even when it would be worth doing), then it’s time to take decisive action and learn to refuse once and for all. Now we will move on to the main part of our article - we will analyze specific methods and techniques that will help you learn to say NO to people.

Analyze the reasons for your reliability

To solve a problem, you need to find its root.
The inability to refuse may be based on fear of hurting other people's feelings or lack of self-confidence. You may think that you don’t have the right to choose what you will do and what you will refuse, says psychotherapist Dmitry Kolygin. The inability to refuse, Dmitry notes, is often the result of an unsuccessful life experience: “Everything we know how to do, we once learned to do.

If at some point in life a person defended himself and something unpleasant happened because of this, there is a high probability that he will refuse to protect his own boundaries in the future.”

If possible, such cases should be worked through with a psychologist who will help you build boundaries and realize that you have the right to control your own life (no matter what toxic relatives or friends say).

However, the reasons for failure-free operation are sometimes simpler and do not require the help of a specialist. “I was used to agreeing to any job offers when I was a student. I wanted to get as much cool experience as possible, earn money, and I was very happy if I was called somewhere. The usual situation: there is nothing to choose from, and you agree to everything. Over time, the flow of proposals became very large, and I began to engage in my own projects, but out of habit I continued to say “yes” to everyone. Then it became clear that I not only could, but had to refuse some offers,” says entrepreneur Pavel.

What phrases to use to competently refuse?

So, if you still decide to say no, then you need to do it firmly and without hesitation. The following formulations are very suitable:

  • “I refuse because... this will cause me a lot of inconvenience”;
  • “I’m sure you can cope with this without my help”;
  • “Now it will be extremely inconvenient for me to help with this”;
  • “It looks like you just don’t want to bother yourself”;
  • "No. To perform this work, it is better to contact ... (taxi driver, loader, plumber, etc.)"
  • "I do not want to do this";
  • "I don't have time for this."

So, these 7 formulations maintain the optimal balance between politeness and sufficient categoricalness, and at the same time, simple enough to refuse an inconvenient request. But in fact, what you say is not so important, what matters most is how. The main thing is that the confidence and firmness in your decision is obvious to the interlocutor, and his attempts to persuade you are not crowned with success. I think this is all clear. Now let's look at a few important rules that will help you learn to refuse without experiencing moral discomfort.

Learn to recognize manipulation

They may try to manipulate even after you have said no. A person may begin to press for pity or convince him that his request is not at all difficult. The methods may vary, but if your refusal is not taken seriously and they try to make you feel guilty, you are definitely dealing with manipulation.

“A simple tip is to prepare a few template phrases that will help firmly stop the manipulation and end the conversation.

Something like, “I’m sorry to say no, but I’m not ready to help you.” A person who knows how to refuse will most likely come up with an answer to the manipulator. But someone who doesn’t know how to say “no” well will easily lose control of the situation. Ready-made templates will help you not to get bogged down in unnecessary thoughts,” says Dmitry.


How to say no correctly: 5 simple rules

The ability to refuse correctly, in general, comes down to politely listening to the request, weighing everything, and saying no. However, in practice this is much more difficult to do than it seems, for the reasons that we have already discussed above. Therefore, let's learn a few simple rules that will help you not only learn how to refuse, but also do it in such a way as not to experience emotional discomfort. Start following them the next time you feel the need to refuse. So:

1. Take time to think

This way you don't say no right away, but you set the person up for the possibility that he might get rejected. During this time, he can select alternative options. It is especially important to take a break if the request takes you by surprise and you need to weigh the pros and cons in a calm environment. For example, knowing that you work in a hospital, a former classmate contacted you so that you could arrange an appointment with a doctor without waiting in line. But you work as an accountant and have nothing to do with doctors, and you don’t want to be obligated to anyone, because debt is worth paying. In this case, it is advisable to answer that you will think about it and respond tomorrow. A feeling of uncertainty will force the person asking to look for backup ways to resolve his issue.

2. Practice the little things.

Learn to say no, starting with small requests. Start training with people you can easily refuse. For example, an acquaintance asks him to give him a ride somewhere, but it’s not very convenient for you right now (or you don’t want to - that’s also a good reason). Start with him - refuse his request. Of course, you should do this without detriment to yourself: if you really want to help, then do it.

It’s not difficult to start saying no to loved ones because with them there is less risk of getting a feeling of guilt for refusing as a “bonus”. But if, nevertheless, the negative emotion could not be avoided, work through the refusal again, allow yourself to get used to defending your personal space and your interests.

3. Be persistent

You have learned to refuse, but the person does not hear you and gives his arguments why your no should turn into agreement. You tell him about your emotions, and in return he tells you how he feels and why he needs help. He can’t cope without you, you are his savior. Do not succumb to provocation , although it may not be such, and the person was simply surprised by your refusal, because until you learned to say “no” it was easy for him to be with you. If necessary, repeat several times and justify your refusal.

4. Offer alternatives

The feeling of guilt that arises after saying “no” is due to the fact that you are haunted by a feeling of betrayal. And in the role of a traitor - you. Learn to think correctly! You did not leave the person in a difficult situation if you offered him alternative options. A friend asks you to babysit your child? Give her the contact information of a trusted nanny. Does your neighbor want you to lend him money until tomorrow? Share the pawnshop's phone number with him. This is an excellent technique to “smooth out” the possible negativity from your first refusals.

5. Don't make excuses!

Spare yourself and the person asking from detailed explanations and stories about why you are telling him “no.” He is interested in the result, not your excuses. A skilled manipulator will be able to find pain points and press on them in the hope that your “no” will become less firm, and then completely turn into a “yes.” If you refuse, do not forget about education and correct wording. When they ask you to borrow money, do not say bluntly, “I won’t give it because I don’t believe that you will pay it back to me.” Or if you are invited to a concert, saying “I won’t go because I’m not interested in communicating with you” is rudeness. Be polite, but most importantly, learn to save your own body’s resources and do not waste energy on those who are used to getting their way by force or through moral pressure.

Here's a little summary of this important piece of information we just covered:

Psychologist's advice

The rules described above seem quite simple at first glance. But as soon as it comes to a real refusal, emotions come into play, the mind becomes clouded, and we again cannot squeeze out “no” in response to another request, contrary to our own interests and plans.

To prevent refusal from causing emotional discomfort, follow the advice of psychologists.

  1. Imagine that you have to answer not for yourself, but for a friend. According to psychologists, we are more willing to take care of loved ones than ourselves. Think about whether it will be convenient for your friend to fulfill the request, whether it will make it difficult for him. Only then make a decision and give an answer. If the provision of a service is unacceptable to you, then this technique will help you refuse without experiencing painful remorse.
  2. Tell the truth without embellishing it. Say directly that you are uncomfortable with the request or that you cannot do what is being asked of you well. An adequate person will immediately understand that he is burdening you with his request, and will look for other options. Well, the inadequate one will have to repeat it several times.
  3. Accepting rejection isn't easy. To soften it, it is best to use phrases like “this is not in my competence” or “unfortunately, I cannot help” instead of a categorical “no.” This will make it clear to the person that it is not about him, but about you.
  4. It will be easier to say “no” if fulfilling the request would cause you to break your obligations to your parents, loved one, or child. Before agreeing, think carefully about how difficult the request will be not only for you personally, but also for your loved ones.
  5. Don't come up with excuses that can become your trap. The feeling of shame that arises from refusal forces many people to make excuses. They begin to describe in detail the reasons for the refusal. As a result, your “no” begins to sound less and less convincing. If the interlocutor turns out to be a manipulator, then it will not be difficult for him to press on your pain points and put the squeeze on you in order to ultimately obtain consent.

We consolidate the acquired knowledge

Friends, if you want to continue to develop and take your communication skills with people to a new level, I recommend that you take the online course “Effective Communication” from the famous training platform “Vikium”. The course lasts 30 days, it includes 33 video lectures, 26 exercises, 6 tests.

This course will teach you:

  • Manage your emotions
  • Communicate more effectively with your surroundings
  • Overcome difficult emotional situations
  • Manage conflicts
  • Understand the other person's feelings and thoughts on a deeper level
  • Build harmonious relationships

The author of the course is Oleg Kalinichev. Expert in nonverbal behavior, emotional intelligence and lie detection. Accredited trainer PaulEkman International. Managing Director of PaulEkman International in Russia (PEI Russia).

Now let’s return to the topic of the article and discuss another important point.

You give with your hands - you walk with your feet

One day I lent money to a friend of mine. So, when he decided to return the money (which is not bad!), I had to go to get my money almost to the other end of the city. I spent a lot of gas and time.

I also once lent some money to my cousin. He did not pick up the phone for a long time and delayed the return. Sometimes it’s easier to just refuse than to waste your time later. But that's okay. I also had cases when the money that was borrowed from me never came back to me.

Refuse confidently, otherwise they will try to convince you and lure you “to the side of evil.” Saying “yes” is easy, but dealing with the consequences is a whole story.

Write down every time you agree to something. Also write down when you refused. This kind of committing to paper will help you be more aware and not say “yes” on autopilot in the future.

Is the ability to refuse a bad thing?

The main thing to remember is that saying no doesn't automatically make you a bad person. You will not become an unloving husband, a cruel colleague, an unfriendly neighbor. You are a person who has his own life, his own plans, interests, which at the moment contradict the request for help. And this is not a confrontation at all - this is the normal state of affairs.

Helping of our own free will, we feel comfortable, but if we have to step over ourselves, give up our plans, irritation grows inside , bordering on self-doubt. How many times have you reproached yourself for not learning how to refuse correctly? Or wanted to say no, but agreed to help instead?

Remember that simply learning to say “no” is not enough - it is important to feel confident and calm when doing so. And understanding that saying no is not a bad thing is an important step towards getting rid of the internal discomfort when you say “no” to someone.

Relieve yourself of responsibility for other people's expectations

Even if you are well aware that you have every right to refuse, it may not be easy for fear of upsetting other people. But you should not hold yourself responsible for the feelings of others. You are not doing wrong if you refuse to live up to someone's expectations.

“When a person offers something, he must be ready to accept refusal. If someone reacts incorrectly to this - gets offended or very clearly demonstrates his grief - this is his problem.

You have nothing to do with it at all. Adults must manage their expectations,” notes Pavel.

“By taking responsibility for other people’s feelings, a lack of psychological boundaries is demonstrated. A person simply does not separate his thoughts and emotions from the feelings of other people. If he is told that he is bad, he automatically believes it. If someone nearby gets upset, he takes on that upset. You need to work with your subjectivity, learn a sense of integrity and independence,” says Dmitry.

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