Time Management

How to Say 'No' Without Feeling Guilty

What you spend your time on the most, is what matters most to you.
How to Say 'No' Without Feeling Guilty
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The word "no" is probably one of the most difficult words to say after receiving requests from people. You might even feel pressured to say "yes" because you do not want to disappoint or hurt someone’s feelings. However, at work, school, home or social gathering, you must learn to say "no" and stop being a person-pleaser, so that you can take control of your life and maintain and allocate your time to what matters most.

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Though you may feel guilty when you say "no," it helps you avoid disappointing people in the long run when you are unable to fulfill the promise or run out of time to fulfill it.

Why you should learn to say "no"

These are some of the reasons you need to say "no" are:

1. It helps you manage your time.

Whenever you say "yes," you must struggle to allocate your time to fulfill such a request, and this will affect your own life management. In fact, "no" is an important word to use in time management as it can help you allocate your time to things that are more important to you or more meaningful and effective towards your goals and objectives.

2. It protects your interests.

Instead of working to please others while forgetting about things that are important to you, saying "no" helps you focus on your life and set your priorities. This is an effective way to protect your interests without allowing others to dictate what you should do. That may sound selfish to you but think of what a positive impact you can have if you deliver the best version of you possible to any situation or task?  And, imagine when you don’t deliver “the best” and are tired, burned out or overwhelmed by all the tasks that you’ve agreed to complete.

Related: When to Say You're Not Doing Your Best Work

3. It sets boundaries.

Setting boundaries becomes easy as people learn what you will do and what you won’t do. It also allows people to know you that are capable of making your own decisions.

How to say "no" without feeling guilty

1. Say "no" now

Instead of saying "yes" now and disappointing the person later when you fail to fulfill the request, say "no" now.

2. Be straightforward with your "no"

Do not say "maybe" or "probably."  It comes across as unclear.  Most people appreciate a solid “no” than a "maybe."  It’s indecision that can drain energy from all parties involved.

3. Don’t lie about your reasons for saying "no"

Lying about your reasons for saying "no" could lead you to feeling guilty; therefore, do not lie about your reasons for turning down anybody’s request. You do not owe other people a reason and they don’t have the authority over your life to tell you what should or should not matter to you.  Now, if it’s a close friend and you feel comfortable saying the reason then do so but know that anytime you put a reason out there it becomes subject to the judgment of others.

4. Be assertive with your answers

From whining to complimenting and bullying, people use different methods to make people say "yes." Be aware of that and you’ll identify when people are manipulating a "yes" from you.

5. Be polite with your "no"

Saying "no" doesn’t mean you should be impolite; learn to say "no" politely and it will be easy for you to turn down requests without feeling guilty.

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No matter what people think about your decision to say "no," saying "no" does not mean you are selfish or inconsiderate; it only means you are strong enough to set your priorities; be a person of your word and manage your time. Take a look at how you’ve been managing your decision-making authority already. Look at your calendar and see how you spend your time.  What you spend your time on the most, is what matters most to you.  When you look at your schedule, does that align with what really does matter to you?