You might wonder, how do you say no and not feel bad about it?
To answer that, you must first understand why people feel bad turning someone down.
Saying no may feel aggressive, like you are rejecting the person.
Most people do not want to be an aggressor.
If people do say no, they usually do it in ineffective ways that come with an excuse.
For example, they might say, "I'd like to help but I'm really busy."
The problem with this approach is it gives the other person an opportunity to continue to ask.
He or she feels there's an opening, "Since you're busy this week, how about next week?"
Here is how you can effectively say no:
Do not beat around the bush or offer weak excuses or hem and haw. This only provides an opening for the other person.
Do not delay or stall either. Provide a brief explanation if you feel you need to; however, do not feel compelled.
The less said the better.
Be assertive and courteous
You might say, "I'm sorry I can't right now but will let you know when and if I can."
This approach is polite and puts you in a position of power by changing the dynamic.
You are taking charge, telling people you will let them know when and if you can.
Another example, "I appreciate your asking me for help, but I'm stretched too thin right now to devote the time to be of quality help to you."
Understand peoples' tactics
Many people and organisations use manipulation techniques, whether knowingly or not.
For example, think about when you get a solicitation for a donation to a charity and there are forced options: "Would you like to donate ¢10, ¢20, ¢30, or X amount?" Another tactic: "Most people donate ¢20--how much would you like to donate?"
This relies on social pressure.
People sometimes have a hard time saying no because they have not taken the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role within the relationship.
When you truly understand the dynamic and your role, you will not feel as worried about the consequences of saying no.
You will realise that your relationship is solid and can withstand your saying no.
Put the question back on the person asking
This is highly effective in a work situation. Let's say a supervisor is asking you to take on several tasks and even more than you can handle.
You might say, "I'm happy to do X, Y, and Z; however, I would need three weeks, rather than two, to do a good job. How would you like me to prioritise them?"
If someone cannot accept your no, then you know the person is probably not a true friend or does not respect you.
Stand firm and do not feel compelled to give in just because that person is uncomfortable.
Put your needs first. Not those of the person asking you for something.
If you prioritise that person's needs over yours, you will find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount.
Perhaps we can learn from Warren Buffett, who said, "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything."