photo by prfection
“hello i need some advice. i’m writing to you because you seem to have strong opinions about things and stuff. i’m having trouble because my friends always come to me when they need help. i want to help them, but sometimes i feel like they are taking advantage of me and they want me to help them with their homework, but like, i know it’s only because they want to go out with their boyfriends instead of spending time doing their own work. help!! what should i do? like, how can i remain friends with them and still tell them that i don’t want to keep doing their work for them?”
oh dear, i need to tell you something first. and it’s not what you want to hear, but you need to know, that those girls are not your friends!! they might say that they are, but if they come to you only when they want you to do something, they are not real friends. you will be so much better off staying away from them and finding friends who are worthy of you, because you are obviously a very nice girl!!
do you have a problem saying no? especially when you have to say no to some very convincing puweeety puppy dog eyes?
a lot of people, us girls especially, have problems saying no. we don’t want to let people down, we don’t want to disappoint anyone, and we don’t want anyone to hate us. so instead of saying no to unreasonable requests, we smile and give in, only to end up feeling upset, resentful, and perhaps overwhelmed.
why do we always do this to ourselves?
i’m not talking about not trying to help people. yes, you should always lend a helping hand whenever you can. but there are times when you know deep down in your heart, that someone is asking something of you that you are not comfortable with. there are times, when you know that this person is making use of you, taking you for granted, and always asking you to do something, because they know you won’t reject them!
it’s about time to stop abusing yourself. learn to stand up for yourself and say no!!! “no, i will not do your work for you! i will not sacrifice my time and energy while you sneak off to the clubs, uh-uh! no, i will not save your ass and get mine in trouble instead!”
you’re not being a bad person for saying no
some of us feel guilty whenever we want to say no. we’ve been brought up with great family values. we want to help the poor and save the world! so instead of listening to our inner voice that’s violently rejecting the request, we say, “uhm, yeah, ok, sure i could do that,” even though we know we’re only getting ourselves in trouble and burning ourselves out.
you know how 3 year old kids reject you immediately, when they don’t want to do something? they don’t feel bad about saying it. they’re just telling you exactly what they feel.
you say, “take a shower!” they say, “no!”
you say, “do your homework!” they say, “no!”
you say, “go to sleep!” they say, “no!”
take out the brattiness from the “no”, and learn from those kids.
but whatever it is, try not to do it amy winehouse style!
stop and take a time-out
when someone asks you for something, and you feel yourself starting to nod your head, stop. and take a long deep breath. tell them you need to take a moment to think about it. “let me check my schedule”, or “let me get back to you later” usually works great.
remember your goals
what are you trying to accomplish? by helping this person, would it put you in jeopardy, either mentally, emotionally, physically or even financially? by helping this person, are you really helping them because they honestly do have way too much on their hands, or are you helping to make them even more irresponsible than they already are?
listen to your inner voice
your instincts usually tell you the truth. when you first heard about this request, what did you think? was it a nice favor and did your heart beat faster because you were excited about helping out? or were you wishing you could punch this person and hope that he/she would magically disappear? do you honestly want to help this person, or do you think you should? “should” simply means that you don’t actually want to be helping out. your instincts were given to you for a reason, and listening to it would save your sanity later.
watch your body language
body language often gives a lot away. if you’re looking away, twiddling your thumbs, feeling nervous, or sweating in your pits, it screams insecurity. take another deep breath, drop your shoulders, smile and look at them straight in the eye. be firm, and polite, and don’t be defensive nor over apologetic. this tells them that you have made up your mind that you can’t help even though you are sympathetic.
keep it simple
you don’t owe anyone a long and lengthy explanation. when saying no, keep it short and simple. by offering a long explanation, you are indirectly telling the other person that you might be persuaded into change your mind. you are not obligated to state your reasons for saying no. you have your own reasons and they might not be something you want to discuss. in fact, even if you were saying no just because you wanted to go get your hair done, hey, it’s something you wanted to do for yourself! why do you have to give that up just to help someone do their homework? if you must give a reason, keep it simple and repeat that you cannot help.
don’t lie, and remain respectful
even if the other person is being plain rude, keep your dignity intact. you don’t need to stoop to their level. be pleasant, but be firm!! and also, don’t lie to get out of it. well, at least try not to.
don’t let anyone push you around
if they plead or try to pressurize you into changing your mind, repeat that their request simply does not fit into your schedule. then change the subject, or walk away.
practise some, then practise some more!
if you’re not confident about rejecting someone, you might wanna practise doing it first. sometimes when i get very nervous about something, i say it over in my head. this way, i can pick the right words, the right tone, and make sure that i’m bringing the message across. try it! say it over and again in your head, or better yet, say it out loud in front of the mirror. pretend you’re standing in front of the person you want to reject, and practise your little speech! you don’t have to memorise anything, but just saying it a few times prior to saying it for real, will help stop you from being tongue-tied! you will also panic less and be more confident!
what if you actually do want to help
if you actually want to help out but can’t do it at the moment, offer an alternative. you can say that you can help them when you have more time on your hands next week, or you can offer to help but lessen your responsibility by doing only a portion of the task. you can even do it for something in exchange! at least it will be on your own terms. remember, they are asking you for a favor. you don’t owe it to them. in fact, they kinda owe you!
+ “i would love to help out, but i really have my hands full now. why don’t you come back to me next week? i think i might be able to help then.”
+ “i can’t help you pack and ship all those items out, but i can definitely help you by preparing the shipping labels.”
+ “i can definitely work your shift this saturday since it’s your best friend’s birthday! but would you do the same for me next time?”
need more help in saying no? here are some examples of what you can say!
+ “i don’t want to say yes and make a promise to you, when i know i might let you down.”
+ “i’m sorry but i’m going to have to pass. i don’t have the time for that now.”
+ “i’d love to, but i simply don’t have the time.”
+ “i’ve been working very hard on my own homework and i don’t have time to help you do yours.”
+ “i’m proud of my work and i spent a lot of time on it so i hope you respect that and do yours yourself.”
+ “i wish i could help, but i really can’t.”
+ “i’m not comfortable with saying yes, so i’m sorry but i’ll have to decline.”
+ “you caught me at a bad time. i don’t want to say no but i have to.”
+ “i feel like i have helped you do your job plenty of times before. please respect that i have my own job to do too.”
+ “if i say yes, my boyfriend will be so mad that i took on another job and sacrificed the only time we have left to spend together.”
+ “i’m sorry but i can’t lend you that money. i make it a rule not to lend to friends. i don’t want money to come between us.”
+ “i can’t work in your place this weekend because i have already made plans of my own.”
+ “i’m sorry but i’ve already stayed overtime at work everyday of the last two weeks. i have enough on my hands right now.”
+ “thank you for asking me on a date but you’re really not my type.”
+ “i’m sorry but i love my personal space at home and i can’t offer you my couch to sleep on for two weeks.”
remove yourself from the situation
some people are just really good at making use of others, and getting what they want. if you feel like someone’s really being pushy with you, and you might succumb to their pushiness, make up an excuse and just get yourself outta there! say “oops, i need to run to the toilet!” or… you need to fart. whatever! just leave the scene. you do not want to be stuck doing someone else’s dirty work.
personally, i have always been pretty headstrong, even as a child. and i’ve always been pretty good at saying no. i’ve said no to friends who’ve offered me cigarettes, said no to the junkies who’ve asked if i want weed, said no to people who ask if they can copy my work… it’s different when you’re all actually great friends and copy each other’s work all the time. but when you put your heart and soul into something and someone else wants to use it, or worse, copies you without even letting you know, then you really need to put your foot down and say enough is enough. at times, you need to put yourself before others.
just remember, you deserve so much more than this!!!
what about you? have you been caught in a similar situation where someone asks you for a favor but you know they’re just taking advantage of you? how did you say no?
more for nosey parkers:
dealing with difficult people