How To Say "No" Without Hurting Someone's Feelings And Also Our Own

I can understand the difficulty of it. My friend Andrew asked me the other day if would help him move apartments. I hate moving. I hate moving more than I hate writing a resume. And let me tell you, I hate writing a resume. Arrrggh! (More on that in some other post).

The point is my friend asked me for my help. What made this situation worse is that my friend expected my help because a few weeks earlier, he had helped me write an essay for school. I needed information for an essay, and he provided me with an excellent technique for synthesizing the information I had gathered. I was really grateful. That gratitude he was hopeful would motivate me to help him move the contents of his apartment.


Moving apartments, as I said, is something I hate. Composing an essay is something the both of us like. It was not a big burden for him to help me. So, the help he needed is not the same as the help I needed. Right?

Well, whether you agree with me or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there are times when we need to say “no” to people. And there are times when saying “no” produces a feeling of guilt. So, how do we say “no” without hurting someone elses feelings, as well as, our own?

I have three tips.

1) Give up the fight. Chances are you can’t say “no” without hurting someone’s feelings. Especially as in the case I described above. And so what? Their feelings, their expectations are their issue. Yes they may be your friend, and yes you may want them to have good feelings, but a friend can’t be everything to everyone. And your feelings are not my responsibility. Your expectations are not mine to meet. If I want to meet your expectations, then I will. If I do not, I will not. And, I need not feel bad about that or submit myself to my own pain just to make you happy. How is that being loving?

So how can I say “no” without hurting your feelings? I can’t. So what? Hurt feelings are a part of life. Disappointment is a part of life. Get over it, and solve the problem. Find someone else. I’m sure there are some people out there who like helping people move. Not me!

2) When you say “no”, say it with a gentle smile and soft eyes. Don’t try to make the person understand you, let you off the hook. Just say no. If they understand you, accept your decision, agree with your position or not is NOT your problem. You have a right to say NO. If they like it or not, so what? Say “no” as politely as possible, but say it anyhow. Why? Because that is what you want. And as an act of self-love, what you want is often enough.

3) Don’t let that guilt you feel walk you into doing what you don’t want. Usually when I say “no” I feel guilty. I feel guilty and bad. Why? Who knows? Probably sometime when I was young, I learned to be ashamed of my own right to live as I want. I probably learned to feel bad whenever I said “no”. Well so what? That was then, this is now. I refuse to allow the feeling of guilt for saying “no” manipulate me into doing what I really do not want to do. Is this selfish? I don’t know, and I don’t care. My freedom is more important than listening to the guilt I was trained to obey. If I want to help someone, I will. And, I do. But, there are times when I do not want to. And that is okay! It’s more than okay. It’s down right RIGHT!

I’m sure there are more tips as to how to say “no” to people. I’d love to hear your advice. I know that if I had heard this advice a few years ago, it would have saved me a lot of frustration headaches and sour stomachs. Hope the information helps.

If it doesn't, then go here: http://www.webheights.net/lovethyself/smith/no.htm

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