said that I recall my experience and numerous interaction with people I
know and have worked with (in students societies as well as in life
generally). If you ask them to do something for you, they

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How to Say “No”

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This is a guest post by Asim Imtiaz from the FuzedBulb blog – Ed

here are relatively very few people
who, when asked to do something by someone they know, find it easy to
say no. Sometimes this is because they fear that if they refuse it
might appear to the other person as if they are being selfish
particularly when they do not come up with a good reason for the

said that I recall my experience and numerous interaction with people I
know and have worked with (in students societies as well as in life
generally). If you ask them to do something for you, they face a
terrible dilemma in saying no at your face. They unwillingly commit to
the task. Later, this normally leads to the sequel of lame excuses and
finally ending up by the person saying no (at last).


you are someone who has trouble saying no, then, in a work situation
you might be the one to find your desk being piled high with work. In
social circumstances, a person who has difficulty saying no to someone
excessively persistent can be faced with even greater problems.

It is never easy to say no, but you must learn how. Saying no becomes a vital life-saver.

In my humble opinion I strongly
discourage this attitude. It is never easy to say no, but you must
learn how. Especially in a ‘culture’ like ours where everyone tries to
move their burdens on other people’s shoulders –saying no becomes a
vital life-saver.


Why is it so hard to say No?



There are various factors that make it difficult for you to say no.



Lack of self-esteem


We all have the
right to be proud of ourselves, our achievements and the person we have
become. Remind yourself of your achievements and realize the fact that
committing or refusing to a certain task does not considerably effect
your esteem and respect.



Negative self-image / Lack of self-confidence


Most often people
don’t feel confident enough to make a decision. A refusal is a tough
one. Always keep in mind that if others perceive you as someone with no
self-confidence, they will naturally treat you that way.





Guilt is not a
pleasant feeling. So when someone asks you to do something, we do not
want to say no because that induces a certain feeling of guilt. As in: “I refused a friend…”.
Beware this is the hardest to encounter. You must realize that you have
the right to say no. If the other person isn’t feeling guilty about
letting you express your true sentiments, why should you?



The need to be liked


Ah, last but not
least. All of us want to be liked. This partially relates back to your
level of self-esteem. If you do not really like or appreciate yourself,
of course, you will find it pleasing to have others telling you that
they like you!



Let me tell you one thing: if the only reason a ‘friend’ likes you is that you are happy to run around after him, do you really want or need such ‘friends’?



When and how to say no?

Here’s a check-list that might make your life easier.

  1. Ask
    yourself whether or not the request is a reasonable one and whether you
    want to accede to it or to refuse (note: if you find it difficult to
    make up your mind, you probably want to refuse).
  2. If you feel you need further details, ask for them.
  3. Should you come to the conclusion that you want to say no, do so!
  4. Keep it short, giving an explanation (if you want to) but not a string of excuses.
  5. Don’t apologize. Why? Because if you begin by saying: “I’m sorry but I can’t….” you are inviting the other person to try manipulating you by playing on your feelings of guilt.
  6. Offer some other sort of help if you want to do so.

The writer strongly believe in advising the readers to say the word “NO” at least a 100 times every morning. The article extracts it’s analysis and concepts from the book: “How to deal with difficult people” (1993) by Ursula Markham.

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Facebook comments:


  • great article Asim…
    I think its a great issue to have written on, because its close to the hearts of so many,
    and not many people like to admit it

    well done.

  • Nice article.
    Actually only a few days ago I started a discussion with my bosses on a similar issue. I felt that persistent cries for help from juniors and colleagues from all over the office have started affecting my concentration and thus my own performance. I clearly need to say no to many of these requests.
    But I think that most important reason of my inability to say no so far is that I don’t where to redirect these help-seekers when I don’t want to get involved. When I see that the person seeking the help will remain stuck and ultimately slow down the whole team, I find it better to cater to these request as soon as they arrive.
    So at organizational level, my suggestion to everyone (including myself) is to try to find right channel of help where you can redirect the help-seekers. If there is no such channel then direct the attention of management towards the lack of it.

  • Hashmi, actually the concentration problem is a simple case of a context management challenge.

    You have trouble concentrating because humans generally have long set-up times when switching context.

    Find a tool that helps you put things in small bins.

    Then adopt a working framework that lets you dump things down and pick them up and serve them in an organized way.

    I’d suggest GTD.

  • Thanks Osama for the idea.
    Actually I too was interested in GTD. Tried some tools like GTD gmail. But I never really got much far perhaps because I never read the original book which BTW is not available in local market.

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