Why is it so difficult to say, “no?”  We hear, “sure, no problem” coming out of our mouths, when our head is screaming, “NO, NO, NO!!!!”.  What is so hard about saying, “no!”

We don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, so we compromise and say yes, when we really mean no.

Here are a few tips on getting off the hook:

  1. “Can I get back to you?” Sometimes we just need to think about the full impact of our decision before giving an answer. If the person insists on an immediate decision, then it’s easier to politely decline.
  2. “I’m sorry, but I’m not available then. “ Even if your datebook is available that night, you may already be overbooked and need a night to chill. It is healthy to plan down-time for yourself.
  3. “I can’t do that, but I can do this.” Perhaps you can do some other task that will benefit the person who’s requesting your help. Again, if the person is insistent, switch to no.
  4. “No, I won’t be able to do it.”

It may feel awkward at first, but with continued effort, saying no becomes easier. If asked for an explanation, remember that you really are not obliged to respond. “It doesn’t fit with my schedule,” is perfectly acceptable.