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  • Writer's pictureMwikali

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Q: I get very easily attached emotionally to things and feel the need to be loyal even when I want to move on and try other things. How do I say no without overly worrying about other people’s feelings?

Obviously you are a caring person and that is a great gift to have. Sometimes friends will overlook this good trait and tend to think you are submissive or weak while others think you are a pushover. The most important thing is to know when your kindness is being taken advantage of and draw the line. You have to be firm and not give into any manipulation.

This is easier said than done but the best way to assert yourself is to say no – a simple two-lettered word yet so powerful. This is a word we all understand very well from when we were small and perhaps used it more often then. Then we grow and start rationalising things, afraid to say no because we do not want to hurt others feelings, yet ignoring our own feelings in the process.

The best way of being assertive without fearing to offend is to be clear of the consequences of not saying no.

If you fail to say no at work and accept unrealistic work or deadlines, you risk losing your job. If that is a risk you are not willing to take, your will find it easier to be assertive, with good reason.

Say you have a lot on your plate, or the deadline is too short, or you do not have the right tools to deliver the task. Let us assume you have just had lunch and a manipulative colleague comes by minutes later and asks you keep them company as they have their lunch, the choice is between your time and their happiness, and since you have a job to get back saying, “no thank you I have a lot of work to do,” is not inconsiderate.

Outside work you will always have friends who expect you to drop everything you are doing to run an errand for them, or accompany them to some function including funerals of people you do not know and others who drop by your house whenever they have nothing else to do.

If you do not say no, your errands never get done, you spend less time with family, well-meaning friends and worse still you have no personal time to rest and reflect.

Before you know it, anxiety, stress and burnout kicks in and your heathy is suddenly at risk. And you are still afraid to say no? I hope not. You will be surprised at how many valuable friends you will still have once you draw the line.



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