Tips for getting comfortable with saying No!

Tips for getting comfortable with saying No!


Saying no to activities or requests that we don’t feel comfortable with sometimes feels as challenging as running a marathon. Especially if the request is coming from a close friend or a family member, we might hesitate to say no for various reasons. For example, we might want to please our peers, feel included or avoid conflict. Research on social influence shows that often, people refuse to say no due to the fear of its consequences. However, to build a healthy relationship with ourselves and those around us, we need to master the skill of saying no. It might be challenging at first, but as the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”!


Explain why

Explain the reason behind refusing to turn down a request if you feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes providing an explanation or elaborating on your decision is the best approach to avoid misunderstanding and conflict. For example, let the other person know if you don't feel comfortable going to an event because you have to study. That being said, you don't owe anyone an explanation for doing what is best for you. 


Suggest an alternative time or activity

If you are turning down an invite because the date or time doesn’t work for you, try suggesting an alternative date or activity to allow the other person to know it is not about them. For example, if your friends want to gather inside and you don’t feel comfortable being indoors due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can suggest going to a park and having a little picnic.


Make it about you

Try to make it about you rather than the other person to ensure the other person is not judged or uncomfortable. This is especially important if someone is offering you to smoke or try drugs. For example, you can say, “Thank you, but it is not for me.”


Use a friendly yet firm tone and approach 

If your friends are persistent in asking you to do something you are uncomfortable with, it is important to voice your reluctance in a firm yet friendly manner. In a sense, you are killing two birds with one stone; you explicitly show them what you are okay and not okay with. You are also setting necessary boundaries, which is essential for cultivating healthy relationships both as adolescents and adults. If your friends do not respect your set boundaries, find another crew with more similar interests! 


Last but not least, be sure to check out this insightful and inspirational TEDx Talk: