7 Ways to Say NO and Set Boundaries

Many of us feel compelled to say yes to every request that comes our way. We say yes for many reasons like people pleasing, fear of missing out, not wanting to let someone down, or out of feelings of obligations… but often saying yes is at our own expense as we are left with no time to ourselves and can be left feeling exhausted, stressed, and cranky.

Learning to say no and setting boundaries is something which most of us struggle with but is something that is essential for our self-care. Keep reading to learn our top 7 tips for setting boundaries and saying no.

1 Keep it simple

When saying no, you don’t need to explain yourself or over-apologise (though sometimes you feel a need too). Try using phrases like “I'm sorry I can't right now but will let you know when and if I can” or, “thanks for the offer but it’s not good timing for me right now”, or “thank you but no thank you, I have other commitments at the moment”.

2 Explain with honesty

If you do want to provide an explanation (though do not feel compelled too), try being completely upfront and honest in your response. If you told a friend you can’t go out for dinner because it’s been a really big week at both work and home, you’re feeling drained and run down, and you just really need to take care of yourself with a good night’s sleep – who can argue with that? They will appreciate your honesty and respect your decision. Remember though to keep your explanation short and sweet and provide it only if you want to.

3 Be polite and firm

If you’re finding it hard to say no as you don’t want to be seen as being rude, try killing them with kindness (metaphorically not literally!). Try a response like "I appreciate you asking me for help, but I'm stretched too thin right now", or “this sounds like a great opportunity, but I have to pass”.

4 Have a few no’s up your sleeve

Saying no in the moment can be difficult for some so try having a few responses ready on hand, or alternatively you could say “I’ll get back to you” to allow yourself time where you can respond via text or email until you build your confidence to say no in person.

5 Provide options that suit you

You don’t always have to say no, you could suggest an alternative option that suits you better. This will help you set boundaries and move forward with commitments you do actually want to do. Perhaps instead of saying no, you could say “sorry that doesn’t work for me could we try X instead?”, or “I would love to, but I just can’t right now, could we do this another time?”

6 Stick to your guns

Remember it’s not personal, you’re saying no to something not a person. People usually understand it is your choice to say no and will accept your decision. In some cases, you may find someone may not accept or easily accept your response, which is when you will have to stay strong and stick to your guns. Don’t feel as though you need to say yes just to please them. If they are a true friend, they will respect your decision.

7 Be selfish

If you prioritise someone else’s needs over yours then you will find your cup/energy being drained. Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup, reserve some for yourself and learn to put your needs first… and more importantly learn to put your needs first without feeling guilty.

By being ‘selfish’ and putting yourself first you will be giving those around you the best version of yourself instead of an overcommitted and exhausted person.

1 comment

Cassie

This is very well written! I’ve been finding that I am so busy this month and have had a lot of trouble saying no when other people need my help. Will keep this in mind x
Thanks

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