How to say no (and not feel guilty)
If you're the type of person who feels guilty saying no, follow our script for wriggling out of those common unwanted requests. You'll set yourself some much needed boundaries once and for all.
Request: Your partner expects you to manage the domestics while he’s on night shift.
What you should say: Use the three-part ‘I’ statement: When you don’t help out with household chores, I feel like you don’t value my time, as I am working, too. I don’t want to do all of the housework. Let’s work out a roster so you and I can share the jobs.
Why it works: “There’s no blame and no criticism,” says relationship therapist Susie Tuckwell. “You give a clear statement of feelings, actions and a solution. Do not enter into lengthy discussions or arguments.”
Request: Your friend wants to borrow your car for the weekend when you know she’s a shocking driver.
What you should say: I’m sorry, I don’t lend my car to other people.
Why it works: It’s quick and painless, especially if you follow up with a smile and move on to another topic of interest to you both. “Explanations are unnecessary and unkind here as there is no nice way to say, ‘You are unreliable and a bad driver’,” says Tuckwell.
Request: Your sister asks you to look after her home while she’s away on holidays when you know she’s not likely to return the favour next time you head o/s.
What you should say: I’m flat-chat at the moment and can’t guarantee I will be able to collect the mail or water the garden regularly.
Why it works: Sometimes it’s easier to keep the peace of the relationship, especially with a family member. “In these situations it might not be the best approach to confront them about how unlikely it is that they won’t return the favour,” says pyschiatrist and psychotherapist Katie Dimarco. Alternatively, if you’re happy to mind the ‘hood as long as your sis agrees to house-sit at your place during your next holiday, state your position clearly to avoid conflict down the track.
Request: A random guy you met at the pub asks you out for coffee but you don’t feel the spark.
What you should say: I’m flattered but I will say no. I know I am not attracted to you in a romantic way and I don’t want to lead you on.
Why it works: There’s no confusion and his ego is undamaged. “Remember, it’s hard for men to get up the courage to make the first move, and many men have endured graceless rejections by women who don’t know how to say no while maintaining their composure,” says Tuckwell.
Request: Your manager wants you to take on more responsibility at work without giving you a pay rise. Typical.
What you should say: Is this a temporary assignment – how long do you think it will take? Or: that’s fine, but something will have to go off my list or wait – what do you suggest?
Why it works: You are essentially saying you’re happy to do more, but you are also reminding your manager of your value, says Susan Newman, author of The Book of No.
“This gets the boss to see how much you are doing and possibly remove a task before they assign another, or they may see you are more valuable doing what you do now and give the new task to someone else.”
Author: Angela Tufvesson