How to Say No without Feeling Guilty: 11 Steps

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How to Say No without Feeling Guilty: 11 Steps
How to Say No without Feeling Guilty: 11 Steps

Is it nearly impossible for you to say "no" to someone without feeling guilty, no matter how unnatural the request may be? If you can hardly ever say "no" to someone, either your boss or your partner, without feeling bad afterward, then you have a problem prioritizing your needs over the needs of others. You should say "yes" when you feel the task is doable, within your scope of responsibility, or when you owe a friend a favor. But if you're always saying "yes" out of fear of saying "no," then it's time to take action and take control of your life without feeling guilty. If you want to know how, follow these steps.


Method 1 of 2: Contemplating

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 1
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 1

Step 1. Know that you can't do everything

Your problem of always saying "yes" to everyone may have left you trapped with no time left for yourself. You might say "yes" to helping a friend run a cake bazaar, "yes" to helping a boss with a new project and "yes" to helping a couple paint their apartment. You can avoid situations like this in the future by starting to say "no."

If the reason you can't get everything done is because you're always saying "yes" to lots of people, or because of all the commitments in your busy life, tell yourself that it's impossible for you to say "yes" if you don't think it's true

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 2
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 2

Step 2. Tell yourself that you are not selfish

One of the main reasons why people can't say no without feeling guilty is that they feel selfish turning down people who need their help, so they can have more time. You're said to be selfish when you only care about yourself and never feel guilty about saying "no" to someone.

  • Tell yourself that you are not selfish, and if the person thinks you are selfish for not wanting to do something unnatural, then you should rethink your relationship with that person.
  • Think of all the things where you've always said "yes" to everyone in the past, what's selfish about that action?
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 3
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 3

Step 3. Realize that you can't please everyone

Know that it's impossible to please everyone in your life and that you need to draw boundaries. You may feel like letting someone down when you say "no," and thus lose respect for them, but you will find that the opposite is true. If someone thinks you're going to say "yes" to anything, then he or she will likely take advantage of you and always ask for your help.

You can please the people you really care about every now and then, but it's impossible to please everyone all the time. Take care of your sanity

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 4
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 4

Step 4. Think of all the things you answered with “yes” when you said “no

" You don't have to view the word "no" as something negative. When you say "no" to doing more work, you will say "yes" to many things that will benefit your life. When you think about things that would be better than saying "no," you will feel less guilty. Among them:

  • You say "yes" to spending more quality time with friends, loved ones, and family instead of doing something you don't want to do.
  • You say "yes" to maintaining your sanity, to have time to pamper yourself, and to make time for hobbies and interests that are important to you.
  • You say "yes" to living a more relaxed life, living at a balanced pace centered around what matters to you, not other people.
  • You say "yes" to having a reasonable workload instead of burying yourself in overtime hours because you can't let someone down.
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 5
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 5

Step 5. Understand why you have a problem saying no

Is it because you don't want the person to silence you? Is it because you don't want to appear indifferent to the person? Realizing what makes you feel bad about letting someone down can make it easier for you to look at the situation rationally.

If you're afraid to say no because you're worried that the other person no longer loves you, then you're in a troubled relationship and should try to get out right away

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 6
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 6

Step 6. Understand the various tactics people use to get you to say "yes

" When you can identify the different methods people use to manipulate you and make you say "yes" when you want to say "no," then it will be easier for you to say "no" because you know that they are only trying to control you in their own way. various ways. Here are some tactics you should be aware of:

  • Coercion: The person continues to force you to do what he or she wants you to do, and may even be mean or aggressive in the process. You can resist the pusher by remaining calm and not reacting to his aggressive ways.
  • Whining: A whiner can keep complaining how difficult a job or something is until you give up and agree to help even without being asked. Instead, you should change the subject, avoid contact with the person for a while, or say you sympathize with the problem without offering to help.
  • Guilt play: Some people will try to make you feel guilty by telling them that you never helped them and that you never intervened in an emergency. Calmly remind the person of all the help you've provided, and decline the request. This time will be different.
  • Giving praise: This person may start by telling you how great you are at something, or how smart you are, and then ask you for help with a specific task. Don't fall for compliments and agree to do something just because you've been praised.

Method 2 of 2: Be Reasonable

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 7
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 7

Step 1. Speak in a calm, even tone

Use the same voice you use when requesting to be connected to someone on the phone. Firm, calm, and clear. If you sound emotional, confused, or upset, the person will sense your weakness and will try to take advantage of you. If you sound calm, then the person will see that you're being natural and it's okay for you to say "no" every now and then.

If you don't raise your voice or sound annoyed, the person is likely to be more receptive to your explanation

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 8
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 8

Step 2. Have firm body language

Stand straight with your arms at your sides or use gestures to emphasize your words. Look the person in the eye when you say "no" to show that you are serious. Don't fidget or play with your hands or jewelry, or you'll appear unsure of your decision. Don't slouch or cross your arms over your chest, or you'll appear displeased with your decision and may be shaken.

Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 9
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 9

Step 3. Don't apologize too much

If you're truly sorry you couldn't do the task, then you can simply say, "I'm sorry," but the more you repeat the apology, the weaker your assertiveness will be. The person will think that he can still convince you to do the task, and you will only make yourself look weak and feel worse for not doing it. When you apologize, it gives the impression that you are guilty of not doing the job, and that's not true.

  • Don't say, "I'm really sorry I can't walk your dog next weekend. I really feel guilty."
  • Instead, say, "Sorry I don't have time to walk your dog next weekend."
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 10
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 10

Step 4. Explain why you can't do it

Giving a brief explanation can make the person understand why you can't do what he wants you to do. No need to overdo it, providing a sentence or two of explanation is enough to make the person understand that you have other things to do to be able to do the task. You don't have to lie or make up excuses. Just be honest. Here are some explanations for why you can't execute a request:

  • "I can't finish the project tonight because I have to finish this report by midnight."
  • "I can't take you to the dentist tomorrow because my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary."
  • "I can't go to your party because I have a final exam tomorrow morning."
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 11
Say No Without Feeling Guilty Step 11

Step 5. Give the person several choices

If you're still feeling guilty about saying no and really wish you could help the person, then you can try some other workable solutions. If you can really help her in some other way, don't be afraid to make suggestions and see if it works. Here are some ways to suggest alternatives:

  • "I could try to finish the project tomorrow, but only if you can call some of my clients in the morning."
  • "Would you like to borrow my car to go to the dentist? I don't need a car tomorrow."
  • "I can't go to your party, but we can meet this weekend, after the exams. How about lunch? I want to hear everything."


  • Realize that walking away with dignity and integrity is better than staying in the situation, no matter how bad it makes you feel.
  • Remember, if someone doesn't respect your religion, morals, or values, don't let them try to reason that it's "okay" to violate them.
  • Don't let anyone try to manipulate you into doing what they want when you've already said "no."
  • When your integrity is at risk, it's always harder to argue with yourself. But do it anyway.
  • Sometimes you will feel alone if you do the right thing, but you are not alone!
  • No matter how many reasons they have for trying to change your mind, if you've said "no" and given an explanation, you're good to go.
  • When you don't respect yourself, it opens the door for friends, coworkers, classmates, and even family to disrespect you too.
  • People will try to change your mind, but don't be swayed because they will appreciate you more in the end.

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