How To Say NO and Still Be Friends

"How do I say no and mean it?"

"I'd love to say no but I just can't!"

"Seriously, I need some confidence in order to say NO."

"Do I have the right to deny a request from a friend?"

Do you have a hard time saying no to your friends?

Who doesn't?

However, there are instances when you simply need to say no. Maybe you're way too busy, or your friend is asking you to do something that you're uncomfortable with. The bottom line is you really want to say no. But”¦

It's awkward to say no to a friend. You don't want to risk or ruin a friendship over it.

I'm here to say you might be surprised to learn that it's not hard to say no and still be friends.

Use these six principles and learn how to say no without damaging your friendship:

Make certain you didn't misunderstand.

Misunderstandings are common. Maybe you didn't hear what you thought you heard. Get clarification before you say yes or no.

  • Maybe you'll be able to say yes, if you first seek to understand.

Are you clear of the request?


Separate the issue from those involved.

Once you've gotten clear on the issue and determined that you're not getting involved, remember that you're still friends. Being friends is separate from the issue at hand.

  • Ensure they understand that it's the issue or your own situation that's preventing you from saying yes, not them.

Can you separate the issue from those involved?


Keep the focus on yourself, not your friend.

It doesn't go over well if you say something like, "I can't lend you money because everyone knows you'll never pay it back."

  • Let them know that you care, but explain why you can't help. It's important that they understand why you're saying no.
  • For example, you can explain that you have a policy of never loaning money because it has ruined friendships in the past. Or, you can say that you are financially strapped yourself.

Where's your focus?


Be firm and clear in your “no.”

Many of us give weak, wishy-washy answers that give the other person hope that we might change our minds. Avoid giving false hope and just give a clear "no."

  • A clear "no" ends the issue quickly. It's like pulling off a Band-Aid with one quick pull.

How firm is your answer?


What is the underlying need?

If you can determine what he really needs, you can help your friend come up with another solution.

  • Sometimes, a person in need doesn't have the capacity to find more elegant solutions. You could be of great assistance by taking the time to brainstorm and look for other alternatives in which you aren't involved.

What is the underlying need?


Find another way to help them.

Maybe you could help with the current issue in some smaller capacity. Offer other suggestions.

  • Maybe they have another need where you would be happy to provide help and support.
  • One of the keys to keeping the friendship is to ensure they walk away with something from you, even if it's only advice and empathy.
  • If they feel worse than they did before they approached you, the friendship is likely to be strained.
  • How we feel about others is largely dependent on how they make us feel. Do what you can to make your friend feel better without compromising your limits.

Is there something else you can do?


It's not easy to say no to a friend.

But sometimes you have to.

Otherwise, you'll end up resentful, especially if helping your friend comes at too great a cost. That will kill the relationship altogether.

Be honest, forthright and say no when it's appropriate. Remain supportive of your friends and try to help in other ways if you can't acquiesce to their request.

If you are empathetic and offer help in other ways, your bond and friendship will remain strong for a very long time.

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