In a previous piece on new year resolutions you need to have in 2022, we recommended that you get comfortable with saying and hearing no this year. So, it only makes sense that we tell you how to actually do that as it is something most people seem to struggle with.
Here are our top tips:
Use your past experiences and instances of discomfort/comfort to understand and set your boundaries when it comes to doing stuff for other people. Having a clear image of what those makes it easier for you to process emotions and come up with a decision based on what your boundaries are.
One of the biggest reasons why folks feel discomfort with the word “no” is that we seem to consider it the default answer to people’s requests and people’s default answer to ours —no is given as an answer only when yes is near impossible. Practice considering no as your default answer to every request you get and say yes when you’re clearly enthusiastic and don’t mind the request. It will take time and effort to rewire your attitude and that’s OK.
Sometimes, due to a perceived urgency, you can accept something and then regret doing so once you had some time to think it over. Make it a habit to reconsider whether you’re leaning towards a “yes” because you’re being rushed. Ask for time to think about it, whatever it is. Next time, try telling the other person “let me think it over for a couple of minutes”.
Be honest about why you don’t want to do something. It feels counter-intuitive, yet folks will get to know you better and start asking for stuff they know from experience you’re enthusiastic about/willing to do.
Note that you are not responsible for other people’s feelings or reactions to your “no”. You are not being rude on the simple basis that you refused to do something. So, while you are responsible for the choices you make, whatever follows is the responsibility of the other person. Keep in mind that being nice to others is good but you come first.
If all of this rings true to you and you’re willing to put in the work to start owning your no, but you’re not quite sure how to go about it in a way that doesn't trigger other people’s ego responses, there are always low friction ways of doing so.
Our top tip to creating a polite, yet assertive refusal is to avoid apologizing, as you have nothing to be sorry about. Instead, you can lower friction by acknowledging their efforts to include you or their request for something —a simple “thank you” will do.
It’s also important to remember that no one is entitled to your time or effort and you’re not required to invest either when you’re not sure about it. Letting go of that belief and keeping in mind that the choice is always yours, will help you put yourself first.
(Feel free to email us If you want to add any to the list)
We, at LVRSNFRNDS, always say that the final boss level is to reach a place where you can say no without explaining yourself or giving any excuses, both made-up ones and real ones. However, we do acknowledge that it’s difficult for some people to break free from the need to please others as it is a learned behaviour, ingrained in us since childhood, but it’s not impossible—just takes time and practice.