3 Ways to Say No to People Pleasing

Exhausted From Being a People Pleaser & Never Saying No?

People pleasing is usually driven by good intentions. We want to be nice. We sincerely want to help. We don’t want to be perceived as selfish, unhelpful or incapable. Or maybe we feel that saying no will lead to a confrontation we don’t want. Whatever your reasons for people pleasing, it can lead to you feeling overwhelmed or neglecting your own needs because you’re so busy trying to please everyone else.

Here are three ways to politely say “no”:

  • 1. Keep It Simple: You can be direct and still be polite. Say something like, “I really appreciate you thinking of me, but I’ve really got too much on my plate to take on something else.” Or you can try, “Thanks for the invitation, but I’m afraid I’m already booked.” Keep in mind that you haven’t done anything wrong, and there is no need to apologize. You’re simply opting out for your own good, and learning how to say no to things.
  • 2. Defer Until Later: If you really want to agree to what is being asked or if you simply don’t know what to say in the moment, you can buy yourself some response time by saying, “I really need to check my workload and get back to you.” Then you can think it over, examine your priorities or think of a way to diplomatically decline if that’s what you want to do.
  • 3. Be Honest: If you’re being asked to do something you simply don’t want to do, you might try something like, “I’m glad you invited me, but that doesn’t really line up with my goals right now.” If you want to say no to a date or other social activity, try something like, “I’m flattered, but to be honest, I think we shouldn’t complicate our friendship by dating.” Or you could be more frank and tell them you don’t want to give them the wrong impression of your feelings or preferences by saying yes.

In learning how to say no, remember that you’re simply turning down a request, not rejecting a person. You might love and respect the person making the request, but don’t let that make you feel obligated. Chances are, they’ll completely understand – especially if you’re gracious and reaffirm your fondness for them in your response.

By Dr. Bradley Nelson