It may come as a surprise to others, but many people actually have a problem with saying the word “no” to others. Whether it be about work, extra commitments, hangouts, or anything else, it may seem impossible to those who don’t know how to draw their boundaries.

4 Ways to Say 'No'

If you’re one of these people and you have trouble letting friends and colleagues where you stand, check out a couple phrases you can use.

If you are too busy

If you’re stacked with tasks, work, and life in general, you’re gonna have to find the will to say “no” to something when someone asks. Say “Sorry, I have already committed to something else. I hope you understand” or “My plate’s really full right now, but I’ll let you know if and when I can work on that.” Here, you’re stating your reason and even giving a solution (if you’re open to giving one). It’s clear, concise, and very much firm!

If you don’t want to go

We’ve probably all been invited to something we didn’t want to go to, or asked to do something that we didn’t want to do. In this case, if you no longer want to be a pushover, it’s best to be honest. Draw your line and say “Sorry, it’s not my thing, but thanks for thinking of me.” Let them know you aren’t interested, but you appreciate the invite or the offer.

If you aren’t sure

Don’t close doors too fast! If you’re genuinely confused about whether or not you want to do something or go somewhere with someone, there’s nothing wrong with saying “I’ll get back to you” or “Let me think about it.” It’s not a definite yes or no, but it is clear enough to let the other person know what page you’re on.

If you’re not open to doing it for free

Many people nowadays expect work for free, or for exchange of something else (say, exposure?). When this happens, it’s important to put your foot down at the first sign, or else you’ll always be taken advantage of. Phrases like “Thanks for reaching out, here are my rates” or “I don’t do work for free, but we can definitely talk about the rates depending on the service you want done” are gentle but firm reminders that employers need to pay for work to be done.

The key to all these ways to say “no” is to be honest and to stand your ground! If you don’t draw your own boundaries, no one else will.

Art Daniella Sison

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