How To Say No Without Saying No? – Useful Tips

Say No

Most of the time, we do not want to accept other people’s ideas or opinions, but it is difficult to say no. So how to say no without saying no? And do not hurt the other person?

Saying No Using Redirection

This tactic works best when you are willing to assist, but you are of the opinion that what they are asking you to do either won’t work or that there are better ways to accomplish their goals. Your response should offer a different course of action in this situation, like:

I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to assist you with that. However, maybe I could.

That won’t work, in my opinion, but

Have you given this alternative any thought?

I’m afraid that won’t work, but may I make a suggestion?

Saying No Using Referral

The best situations for using this technique are when you’re willing to help but another person could do it more effectively or when you need the authorization to carry out the task. Refer them to the person who can help them the most in the first instance. Ask them to speak with your boss to get approval in the second instance. You can use the following two responses in that order:

I’m not in the best position to assist with this. May I suggest that you speak with …?

I’m happy to assist you, but you must first obtain my boss’ approval.

Saying No By Redirecting Work Back To The Requestor

The best time to use this technique is when someone approaches you with a big idea for something they want to be done but they want you to handle all the work. This frequently occurs not only at work but also if you volunteer for a non-profit, a church, or another charitable organization. Frequently, a fellow volunteer or able-bodied client of the service makes the request.

When presented with this kind of request, say, “Interesting.” Would you be interested in heading a group of volunteers to conduct this research?” One of two things will happen when this question is asked. Either they’ll accept your offer to assist, which is fantastic, or they’ll leave you alone.

Saying No Using The Company High Road

When you find it difficult to say no even though you know you should, use this technique. With the help of those in authority over you in your organization, you can use this technique to say no. In other words, you are essentially saying that you would like to assist but are unable to. In light of the fact that it was not your choice, they will leave disappointed but not angry. When this circumstance arises, use the examples below. Based on the request made and the type of job you are doing, modify them.

Sorry, but even though I’d love to assist, I already committed to helping on another project and don’t have time to complete both.

Sorry, but I’m working nonstop on the software for the company’s new marketing campaign. I’d love to help.

The CIO told me to spend as much time as possible on this new cloud-based project because it’s crucial to our new computing platform; I’m sorry; I can’t.

Saying No Through Process

You might occasionally discover that you keep declining the same inquiries. The risk in this situation is that it might damage your professional reputation by giving the impression that you don’t work well with others. If this is occurring in your organization, develop a policy that expressly forbids such requests or a prioritization system that consistently places them at the bottom of the list.

This idea makes sense because it enables you to shift the responsibility for any mistakes from you to the policy or a prioritization system that has already been approved. With this tactic, people who make redundant requests are sent away disappointed but not irate.

Avoiding The Question

A question may never be asked, which is sometimes the best way to say no.

Use a gatekeeper to deter people from approaching you so you won’t have to answer the question. Busy executives frequently engage in this behavior to lessen their level of distraction. An office manager who manages your schedule and answers your incoming calls could serve as your gatekeeper. If you don’t have access to this, you can still screen your own incoming calls using caller ID, sending any numbers or people you don’t know or would prefer to avoid to voicemail.

Being Vague And Noncommittal

Many cultures use this method as a legal way to reject something. By refraining from agreeing, you are essentially saying no. Examples of how to do this are as follows:

Interesting, I’ll give it some thought and get back to you.

For a month or two, I won’t have the time. When you ask me again, please.

I can’t use those times. Please send me a list of additional possible dates.

Although I already have a full schedule, if a spot opens up, I’ll give you a call.

Although I don’t know how I’d like to assist you. When I have a good idea, I’ll call.

When employing this tactic, be mindful of the possibility that the person may misinterpret your comment and believe you have agreed to help them. When the requestor comes back looking for information, it might be very embarrassing for both of you.

Furthermore, if someone says this to you, it’s critical that you recognize the existence of this cultural norm.

Saying No Using Leading Questions

Leading questions are those that nudge the asker in a particular direction. In essence, you are telling them what to do, but because it is presented as a question, it comes across as much softer and more helpful than if it were a command. Depending on your job type and the likely requests, you can change these examples:

Did you know that Pat knows a lot more about that subject than I do?

Did you know that the website has this information available online?

Did you know that the website does a great job of outlining the required steps?

Say No

What Makes It So Difficult To Say No?

Why do we all try to please others? Why are we unable to put ourselves first? Why are we feeling oppressed?

Apart from our “ask vs. guess culture” differences, let’s take a look at some more general reasons.

1. We Don’t Want To Hurt Others’ Feelings

When a joke was obviously not funny, have you ever laughed? 

The opposite of wanting acceptance is wanting others to feel accepted.

While many of us struggle with saying no, it’s also true that asking others for favors can be intimidating too, primarily because of the fear of rejection.

Indeed, a 2016 study found that people have a tendency to heavily overestimate the chances of a stranger saying no to a random request like using their phone. In reality, people are a lot nicer than we think—or, like you and I, they just have trouble saying no…

Whatever the case, we tend to have an empathic understanding of the fear of rejection, often leading us to say yes to spare our feelings.

2. We Evolved To Cooperate

You enjoy being around other people, that much is obvious.

Maybe not for everyone, but if you isolate yourself constantly, you may occasionally feel lonely and feel the need to socialize.

We’re all social beings, so that’s totally normal!

We as a species have evolved with a more or less ingrained desire to stay out of trouble, maintain harmony, and lend a helping hand to others—even if doing so costs us something. This desire has been fine-tuned by millennia of natural selection.

Helping out others with no immediate benefit to ourselves is known in the world of evolutionary biology as reciprocal altruism.

Animals, including humans, become active at that time. Do things to temporarily lower their own evolutionary fitness while improving someone else’s, with the expectation that the favor will be returned at some point.

The development of our species appears to have been primarily driven by cooperation and social harmony, not competition, according to a larger picture that reciprocal altruism is just one piece of.

In other words, we literally became the most intelligent species on the planet by scratching each other’s backs and getting scratched in return.

So saying no to someone is, in almost any context, a pretty clear way of indicating that you don’t want to cooperate.

This makes it pretty clear why so many of us are compelled to automatically say “yes” to any request made of us when combined with the concept of reciprocal altruism.

3. We Want To Be Liked And Accepted

Social acceptance and belonging are essential elements of evolutionary fitness in addition to cooperation.

Naturally, accepting others and protecting ourselves from social rejection can be accomplished by simply saying yes to them.

However, a person’s desire to be accepted can differ greatly from one person to another in the population, depending on a variety of variables, all of which can affect your propensity to be a yes man.

Self-esteem is arguably the easiest predictor of the need to seek acceptance.

According to the “sociometer theory,” self-esteem is a measurement of our cumulative experiences of acceptance in interpersonal relations and interactions over time.

There are ways to boost self-esteem, but a lot of it is shaped by our past and determines our propensity to be agreeable.

Therefore, people-pleasing behaviors, such as the inability to say no to others, will be more prevalent in those who have low self-esteem.

Then there’s your attachment style, one of developmental psychology’s most important ideas.

According to attachment theory, how our parents raise us can influence the development of the four main attachment styles in childhood, which can have a long-lasting and significant impact on how we develop relationships with other people as we get older.

youngsters who exhibit anxious attachment patterns tend to grow up struggling to form relationships with others.

They might appear to outsiders as needy, insecure, and—most importantly for our topic—desperate for approval and acceptance.

4. We Don’t Know How To Stand Up For Ourselves

Most of us learn to be respectful and amenable as children:

“Never challenge the status quo.”

“Observe in silence.”

“Follow the rules.”

When we start to descend the slippery slope from respecting others to disrespecting ourselves, it can be challenging to recognize it.

You leave yourself open to being taken advantage of if you always say yes to everyone.

People will start taking advantage of your agreeableness and perceive you as an easy mark and a pushover.

Consider a lax coworker at work who asks for your assistance in finishing a project knowing full well that you are a conscientious, effective worker.

Of course, you respond “yes,” and it makes sense. Then he keeps coming, without giving you anything in return, robbing you of the time and energy you need to keep doing your own work to the best of your ability.

We are frequently mistreated without even realizing it because we lack the skills to defend ourselves.

Why You Should Learn To Say No

Frees Up Time For Yourself

There are only 24 hours in a day, and the majority of us have a lot we want to do and accomplish with that time. This one should go without saying.

Whether it’s striving toward professional ambitions, working on personal passion projects, or even just finding time to rewind and relax, being constantly bombarded with tasks that help other people meet their goals doesn’t exactly help YOU.

Saying No Teaches You How To Be Assertive

People who take initiative, speak their minds, and are outspoken about their needs and desires are valued by society.

This is true in a variety of contexts, including the workplace, school, sports, and even your interpersonal relationships and everything in between.

To Jump Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Saying no is an inherently uncomfortable thing to do, just like interacting with strangers, taking a cold shower, or making an unplanned speech at a social event.

If you’re an awkward people pleaser like I was, you’ll find that learning to say no will directly translate to a simpler time in all other areas of your life.

Things like asking your boss for a raise, asking your crush out, or giving someone negative but constructive feedback all become just a tad bit easier.