6 Ways To Say "No" When You Want To Be Nice

by Brianna Wiest

There are two conflicting messages we receive when it comes to the dichotomy of being fierce, honest, and standing up for ourselves, versus being open-hearted, kind, accepting humans: Draw your lines and stand your ground, but also be open and selfless as well. As with most things in life, it's a balancing act that requires quite a bit of grace to execute, but it's not impossible.

The thing is that when you're not completely direct, people often take your "no" to signal the beginning of a negotiation, and that's just not OK. You don't want to be rude, and you don't want to end relationships over not wanting to go to brunch, but you also need to state your needs, and do so clearly, otherwise they may not (probably won't) be met at all. Because try as you may, people always seem to take a "no" personally, no matter how un-personal it is — and lying instead of saying no right off the bat is a surefire way to spin yourself into a web you can't get out of. Honesty is the best policy, no matter how difficult it may seem in practice at first.

I'm here to help you out. Here are six ways to say "uh, no" when you want to be nice but the answer is definitely, totally, absolutely not:

"That does not work for me, but here's what will."

Offer an alternative right off the bat. Check your calendar and offer another weekend, another compromise, an alternative idea that works for you and isn't unreasonable for them.

"I respect what you want and I respect what I want and on this particular issue, I don't think either of us should have to compromise those things."

If compromise is something that's morally, emotionally, ethically, mentally, spiritually taxing for any party involved, sometimes it's better just to lay the cards on the table. Walk away if doing so is less "coming to a reasonably mutually beneficial conclusion" and more "severely disrespecting what I believe to be right and true and good."

"To be honest with you, I need some 'me' time."

... Which is the reason most people don't want to do the things they don't want to do, most of the time. So be real about it. Say you just want to sit home by yourself for six hours and do nothing and veg out and love your life. (Or just say this when your real reasoning is a little less easy to explain.)

"I really don't want to do that, and I'd rather be honest with you about it."

There's no mincing, fluffing, sugar-coating, or skirting around the truth here, and sometimes that's exactly what you need. The most infuriating thing in the world is when not only do you feel trapped from escaping your situation, but then you feel you have to explain and justify your way out as well. (A thing of nightmares for me, personally.)

"I really don't want to do that, but I want to reassure you that it has nothing to do with you."

... But most people begin that freak out process of "Oh my god, are you sure, is it me??" because they're afraid your desire to perma-chill solo is actually a statement that you're not digging the friendship. Let them know if it isn't. (And you should maybe, probably, actually let them know if it is.)

"I'm feeling a bit uncomfortable, so I'm going to say no, but I'm totally thankful that you asked."

Honesty isn't always the best policy. There, I said it. Sometimes honesty is too complicated or too raw or a thing someone is not prepared to hear. So stick to something that's true, but not explicit: that you're uncomfortable, but thankful you were invited or asked or considered for it in the first place.

Images: NBC; Giphy(3)