4 Ways To Say NO Without Feeling Guilty

Written by Meg Sylvia

Life is busy. Whether you’re working, running a business, or dealing with friends or loved ones, it’s important to become comfortable with saying “no” to certain opportunities in order to maintain a sense of balance and keep stress at a minimum.

Even though we would love to help as many people as possible, we simply don’t have enough time to do it all. So here are four ways to say “no” to overwhelm without burning bridges or feeling guilty in the process.

1. Propose a less time-consuming alternative.

If you want to meet up with a friend or take on a new piece of work but don’t want to make a major time commitment, try making a counteroffer.

For example, If someone is asking to meet for a night out and you simply don’t have the energy, try something like, “I’d love to meet up. Could we meet for a coffee break tomorrow afternoon instead?”

By acknowledging that you’d like to make time for the person and offering another option, you can find an happy medium that works for both of you.

2. Set schedule barriers.

If you’re dealing with a loved one or client who bombards you will calls, texts or emails, it’s time to set some barriers. You can do this by scheduling specific times into your day to spend on these activities.

Here’s an example. Give the person a heads up that you're happy to speak with them, but you're trying a new practice where you only answer emails and calls twice a day, and you'll answer their questions at those times. This way, they can expect to hear from you only at these times, rather than demanding your attention throughout the day.

If the issue is a friend or loved one wanting to spend excessive amounts of time with you, try telling the person that you are only available for certain times periods in the week. Now that they're aware of your schedule, they can arrange to see you only in during the times you feel comfortable spending with them.

3. Respectfully decline for the time being, but offer to re-evaluate in the future.

Maybe you can’t fit any more work into your schedule or you already have plans for the weekend, but you don’t want to pass up an opportunity all together. Instead of turning it down, why not let the person know when you are going to be freed up, and tentatively schedule for the future?

Try this: “I’m tied up with several projects right now, but if you’re interested, I will have more space to take this on in about two months. Can we touch base then?"

4. Turn them down softly.

If you’re dealing with someone who you know is making an unhealthy impact on your life, sometimes the best thing you can do is to let them go. To let them down in the kindest way possible, take the blame off of them, and end with offering something positive, like a compliment.

For example: “Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I feel that this opportunity is not a good fit for me. I wish you the best of luck in the future! “

There are a lot of great options for saying “no” in a loving way. Are there any examples you use to keep from putting too much on your plate?

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