How to say ‘no’ to close friends and family



Most of the time, we find ourselves unable to say “no” to friends and family.

We feel that saying no makes us selfish, insensitive, and unreliable. But, that’s not true at all. Sometimes, you are doing everyone a favour by saying “no”.

It’s the opposite of being selfish when you decline to do something which you are genuinely incapable of doing.

Ask yourself, “How many times have I been there for them?” If the answer is, “almost always” then you’re okay. 

Saying no is just a way for you to set healthy boundaries. We’re all human and have limited bandwidth, so it’s important to set limits for yourself.

So, how do you say no without feeling like you’ve let people down? Here are few tips to follow..

1. You can still be polite while saying “no

There is no need for you to be rude when you say no to someone. All you need to do is be more conscious of how you frame the way you say it. A blunt “No, I can’t,” will definitely rub people the wrong way. However, if you say, “That sounds so great but I already have plans that I cannot cancel”, people are less likely to feel like you’re deliberately saying “No” to them.

If they still take offence, remember one thing, you are not responsible for how people react to things. You are only responsible for what you say. If you have said “no” with sensitivity, you can walk away with a clear conscience. Let it go.

2. Show that you appreciate being asked to be a part of things

Thank them for thinking of you before you say no. Express that though you may not be able to show up (for whatever reason), you are grateful that the person you are talking to thought of including you in their activities.

3. Suggest an alternative 

You can’t make it on Tuesday? Why not suggest showing up on Friday? Perhaps you can’t make it for a party on Saturday, you could suggest helping them prepare for it on the Friday before, or helping them clean up on the Sunday after. This way, people know that though you may not be able to make it on the day, you are still willing to see them another time.

When you find yourself fumbling to say “no” to people, remember that you need to be there for yourself as well. Saying “no” is not selfish. It is part of self-care.

Recommended for you