How to Say No (without sounding mean)
We frequently see folks at LMV Counseling who are kind-hearted and giving people. They are the folks that will give until they are dog tired. It is very difficult often for some people to tell others “no.” Sometimes it feels like it’s too hard to put up with the potential conflict or argument that may arise from saying no. You may think that saying no will be ineffective with the people in your life. Often people avoid telling others “no” or setting boundaries for themselves because they don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. This is from a kind and caring place, however, not saying no regularly can lead to you feeling taken advantage of and feeling used.
You’ve set yourself up to take on a lot and anxiety may kick in. Now you actually have to follow through and do all the things you said yes to! Because you’ve said yes to SO many things, you may constantly feel overwhelmed and stressed. It can be frustrating to continue to say yes even though you know you don’t really mean it, but you’ll do anything to avoid that conflict or potentially hurting someone else’s feelings.
It can make a difference in standing up for yourself and saying no. This allows your “yes” to become even more powerful and meaningful. It communicates to others that when you say yes you mean it and it shows what you value. Below is a list of ways to say no and set firm, but loving boundaries. Remember, you can set boundaries and still be a kind and caring person. In fact, setting boundaries and saying no is the number one way to care for yourself and protect your time, energy, and psychological health.
10 Ways to Say No:
- I prefer/I would rather…then state your preference or offer an alternative
- I’ll let you know when I’m ready for that. In other words, “not right now” and “don’t call me, I’ll call you”
- I have another commitment. You do not need to elaborate on the other commitment because maybe you would rather commit to snuggling your dog on the couch that night and that’s okay.
- I won’t be able to give it the time/attention it deserves/demands
- I’d love to, but it doesn’t fit with my schedule/plan/goals
- That’s not really my thing.
- I’ve already decided. Sets a firm boundary that this topic is no longer up for discussion.
- I’m maxed out right now.
- It’s better for me if…this can be a softer way to ease into communicating your preferences
- That’s not a priority for me right now.
Do you have trouble saying no or feel like it’s too harsh? LMV Counseling’s therapist in Wilmington, NC can help you navigate these difficult conversations. We provide in person and convenient online therapy options for individuals in North Carolina. We want to help you live a life with less anxiety and people pleasing so you can get back to feeling like you! Get started today.