You boss has just given you yet another piece of work which she says is urgent, or your friend has told you she has been let down by her babysitter and asked if you can help out. There is a film you really want to see and you had planned to go with you partner, but on both occasions you find yourself saying yes and then wondering why you have done so. Why do we say yes when we would really want to say no. Many people say that they don’t want to appear difficult and they want people to like them. It can become a habit and do you worry that if you say no firmly enough it might sound aggressive?
There are ways of saying no and staying on good terms with your boss, friends and family. To take the example at the office where the work is piling up and you are accepting more and more. When you are next given a piece of work that needs to be done quickly try saying you are still completing the job you were given yesterday would your boss like you to complete that or would she like you to make the new job a priority and complete the other piece after. The chances are that she has forgotten what work you have on your in tray and asking this question is perfectly reasonable and polite and takes the pressure off you.
With your friend and the baby sitting you can explain to your friend that you are unable to help as you have already made arrangements for the evening. If you explain that you had arranged to go to see a film with your partner then she may well try and persuade you to go another night. So if you intend to carry your plan through it is better to keep the answer fairly brief and not to go into lots of detail. Saying no on one occasion does not mean that you won’t help out on another occasion so you could tell her that.
Sometimes people ask for a favour when we are busy and we haven’t had time to think it through. In this situation you can always say you are rather busy at the moment and can you get back to them.
It can feel quite strange the first time you say no and you might even feel guilty.
It takes a while to be comfortable with this so don’t give up the first time you have said no. It takes practice.