How to build boundaries and decline without saying no?

How to build boundaries and decline without saying no?

Dec 26, 2022Zaryab Fayyaz

Many people hesitate to say no but sometimes it’s very important to say “No” especially at the workplace when you don’t want to take part in any activity or want to go to any party. But it’s not easy to say no especially to your friends and family because you don’t want to hurt them.

If you want to learn how to say no to people without hurting their feelings then try some of these tips:

Define your limits

The ability to say no is an essential skill that helps to stay in control and gives you the space you need. However many of us always say yes to everything and everyone just because we don’t want to disappoint others or want to avoid conflict.

To say no without hurting anyone you need to set your limits first. Setting limits is an example of setting boundaries. So, whenever you receive any request you need to evaluate and determine whether that request falls within your boundaries or not.

Signs of boundary issues

Here are signs of poor boundaries that have been recognized:

  •       You find relationships difficult and dramatic
  •       You find decision-making challenging
  •       You don’t want to let other people down
  •       Saying “no” makes you feel guilty
  •       You allow other people to define you
  •       You try to please everyone
  •       You accept all the things that you should not

 What causes weak boundaries?

According to research, there are 7 red flags of poor boundaries

  •       Emotional
  •       Psychological
  •       Physical
  •       Sexual
  •       Domestic violence
  •       Trauma
  •       Poor attachment
  •         Parent-child conflict can affect the development of boundaries.

Coming up with another solution is often the nicest approach

Whenever you want to say “No “to anything or everyone gives yourself some time before you respond and come up with something nice so that the other person doesn’t get offended. Instead, you say “let me check my schedule” or “I will let you know in a short time.” This way you will get some time to plan out how you will say “No” without hurting the other side.

Be short and to the point

Sometimes delaying in saying no is not a good idea because it can lead to miscommunication and might be possible that the other person takes it as a yes. And, that can eventually damage your reputation if you say no in the end. So, in that case, it’s good to decline with clarity to save your relationship.

Share a good reason

If someone is a good person and is requesting something that is not within your boundary give them an honest explanation by saying “I have no expertise in this field and I want to ruin your assignment.”

Be resilient to guilt trips and manipulation

The rule of thumb is never to argue about the validity of your reason because the person might try to manipulate you. If the other person continues to debate repeat your reason once and move on.

You can make someone happy for a short term by saying yes but if you cannot fulfill your promise you will feel frustrated and guilty later. Temporary agreement to things can make your bad reputation for not keeping promises. It is much better to have some minor disappointment in the near term than anger in the long run.

Give them better solutions

 If you want to help others without saying yes then the best way is to give them options, suggestions, or solutions. This way you can lessen the conflict and disappointment.

Don’t get annoyed

It’s very common to get annoyed or angry with people who ask for something you do not want to give or provide. But always remember one thing if something is asked professionally then it’s not wrong. If you cannot say no professionally or ethically then it’s your fault you cannot blame the asker.

Say no to the idea, not to the person

Saying yes to the person but no to the specific request will reduce your guilt and preserve a meaningful relationship. For example, if a colleague asks you to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies from his daughter, you may respond that you admire the Girl Scouts and think their annual cookie sales are a great effort, however, you’re trying to cut back on sweets and already bought the one box of cookies you allow yourself every year.


“No” is a very small and simple word but sometimes it becomes very hard to say.

There are times when it is important to say no, but the situation and the people involved can make it more challenging for you. Saying no at work, in relationships, and with friends and family can create conflicting emotions. Therefore you just need to learn and understand how to use no.

I hope that this article will help you in your daily life. Follow us on social media and tell us Why is it hard for you to say “no”?


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