How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty – for People Pleasers

Learn how to say no without feeling guilty with these tips for people pleasers. Instead of struggling with resentment because you keep saying yes, learn how to stand up for yourself and say no…

“My husband usually gets what he wants, but that don’t mean I don’t put up a battle. Better than I used to, now I can say no,” said Lynn.

People pleasers, submissive wives, and women in leadership don’t need counseling to learn to say no without feeling guilty…they just need to learn a few simple phrases. For in-depth help, read People Pleasers: Helping Others Without Hurting Yourself.

And here are tips on saying no without feeling guilty…

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Here are six phrases to say when you can’t do something or you want to say “no” but feel awkward. Even the most chronic people pleaser can find a phrase to use here…

“I’m sorry, but this is a bad time.”

Apologizing and saying that it’s just not a good time right now involves good communication skills in the workplace – especially if you’re a woman in leadership – as well as home. You may have to repeat it, especially if people are used to you being a people pleaser who can’t say no. Saying no without feeling guilty can even involve wanting to say yes, but being honest: you can’t.

“Sure, I can do it…but something else has to go.”

Offer to replace a current responsibility with the requested activity. For instance, if your boss asks you to take on a new project, then discuss what current project needs to be removed – because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. Saying no without feeling guilty and good communication skills in the workplace involves shifting your responsibilities – not just adding to them.

“Unfortunately, I have something else scheduled.”

This tip for people pleasers works great when you’ve been invited anywhere you don’t want to or can’t go. You don’t have to say what your other plans are; simply shake your head regretfully and say you need to pass on the opportunity – though it sounds wonderful. Saying no without feeling guilty – especially to toxic family members – involves honest communication.

“Sounds great – can I take a raincheck?”

Maybe you really would like to acquiesce to the request, but you can’t do it right now. Make it clear that in the future – a few days, weeks, months – you’ll be better able to say yes. Saying no without feeling guilty is sometime about putting things off – as long as you’re not just stringing people along because you’re a people pleaser.

“I’d love to, but it’s not in my budget.”

Have you ever been asked to contribute $50 or $100 for a shower or wedding gift of a coworker you’ve met twice, to whom’s wedding you’re not invited? I have. I said yes because I knew I’d feel guilty if I said no. Instead, I gave the money and am still bitter about it today. I wish I would’ve simply said, “I’d love to, but it’s not in my budget.”

“No, thanks.” (a simple, effective way to say no without feeling guilty!)

This is effective way to say no when a telephone solicitor calls, or a store clerk asks you to buy an extra item so you get the third for free, or your mom offers you another piece of pie. Even if they think you’re crazy for passing this up, just say “no, thanks.” Saying no without feeling guilty can be as simple as two little words – which are also part of good communication skills in the workplace.

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To learn more about saying no without feeling guilty, How to Stand Up for Yourself.

Are you a people pleaser who has a hard time saying no without feeling guilty? I welcome your thoughts and questions below.


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3 thoughts on “How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty – for People Pleasers

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    A famous woman – I can’t remember who, perhaps Annie Dillard – once said, “No is a complete sentence.”

    This means that we can just say “no” without feeling guilty, right?

    Easier said than done 🙂 especially if you’re a people pleaser.

  • Hope

    I came upon a website – The English – that shows how the phrase “Take a raincheck” was used in the TV show – sex and the city. In fact, this site has taken lots of phrases and new words from different TV shows movies to show how they are used in everyday talk.