The Art of Refusal: When and How to Say No
One of the most important life skills to learn is how to say no. Refusing requests and invitations can be difficult, but when done in the right way, it can help you save time and energy while protecting your mental health. Knowing when and how to refuse requests is a valuable tool that can help you stay in control of your life.
When to Refuse
There are several situations when it is appropriate to say no. Here are a few examples:
- When you don’t have the capacity to take on more work or projects.
- When the request conflicts with your core values.
- When you are already stretched too thin.
- When someone is asking too much of your time or energy.
- When you don’t have the skills to complete the request.
- When the request is not in line with your goals or plans.
- When the request involves someone who has been unkind to you.
How to Refuse
Once you determine that a request is not something you can or want to do, it is important to know how to politely say no. Here are some tips for refusing requests:
- Be firm but polite. Don’t be apologetic or offer excuses.
- Be honest but don’t give too much information.
- Offer alternatives if possible.
- Be direct and to the point.
- Be clear and concise.
- Thank the person for understanding.
The Benefits of Refusal
Learning how to say no can have many benefits, including:
- Protection of your time and energy. Saying no to requests that don’t align with your goals or values can help you focus on the things that are important to you.
- Improved mental health. Taking on too much can be a source of stress. Saying no can help you avoid burnout.
- Increased self-confidence. Refusal is a sign of strength and self-respect.
Learning to politely refuse requests is an important life skill. Knowing when and how to say no is essential for staying in control of your life and protecting your time and energy.
- McGonigal, Kelly. The Art of Saying No: How to Stand Your Ground and Reclaim Your Time and Energy. 2018.
- Kwong, Julia. How to Say No: A Guide to Refusal Skills. 2019.
- McGonigal, Kelly. “The Art of Refusal: How to Say No.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 April 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-willpower/202004/the-art-refusal-how-say-no.