This Is How To Say No To Your Mates Without Feeling Guilty, According To An Expert

by Aoife Hanna
Lumina / Stocksy

Why is it that often when you get asked to do something you don't want to do — you can't say no? What the effing eff happened to that strong AF astute power suit wearing queen? OK, I definitely inserted power suit there but real talk, knowing how to say no to your friends is pretty dang difficult at times.

And like, who could blame you? You want to be the very best of the BFFs, everyone does. And that's not to mention the people pleasing desires many of us have, which make saying no just about the hardest thing to do to your friends.

I spoke to TV Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James, who explained why it can be so difficult to say that teeny two letter word, and shared her tips for how to tackle the issue when it arises. So when you get strong armed, manipulated, or pushed into something and don't manage to say no — there's still hope for next time. Just take a deep breath, scream into a pillow, or whatever stress-relieving method works for you, and take a moment. Now let's look at some go-to tricks to help you say no so much more easily next time.


Be Honest

Perhaps the most obvious of options but also the most difficult. As Langcaster-James explained, this is because people are conditioned to think of themselves last. "Sometimes, it's hard to put ourselves first because we’ve been conditioned from very early in life to think of others before ourselves. To a certain extent it's right that we should consider other people's feelings and wishes in a relationship of any kind. However, when it becomes a habit to say 'yes' when in fact you'd rather say 'No' it may be that you have lost sight of the importance of getting your own needs met too".

There is absolutely no reason to make up stories or desperately grasp at straws. Any true friend will recognise that you are entitled to a little thing called free will and that nobody can make you do anything you don't want to.


Be Polite But Firm

You need a night to yourself or maybe you just don't particularly want to see that person. Why not say something like? "Aw man. I'm going to say no because I need some quality TLC me time, but how about next week?"

In this way you are making proactive plans to hang with that person instead of just fobbing them off. And manners are really key in all parts of life. Langcaster-James said it is absolutely possible to be assertive while maintaining your manners. "A good way to learn to say 'no' is to be respectful and polite but at the same time assertive. You can say 'I'm really sorry to disappoint you but I don’t want to do that' for example. It's a good way to get accustomed to saying 'No' because you are acknowledging the feelings of your friend whilst also honouring your own."


Consider The Cause Of The Problem

I'm not sure about you but I have maybe three friends who I contact to borrow money when things are tight, and they also get in touch with me when they are skint. In other words, it is a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship. So next time you're struggling to say no, maybe ask yourself, why do you feel so bad about it? Is it legitimate guilt or are you carrying something a little heavier? Langcaster-James explains, "Sometimes, guilt is actually anger or frustration turned inwards at oneself, so ask yourself, do you really feel guilty, or is part of you feeling irritated that you have to consider your friend’s wishes at all?"

She continues, "If it's the latter, then maybe you need to reassess your friendship and think about whether it’s a healthy relationship for you to be in, or whether it is one that is not actually supportive to you."


Allow Yourself To Be Human

"No thank you, I'm too tired".

Now that wasn't so hard was it? But people often seem to think of themselves as super human, and give up their last shreds of energy to activities they don't even want to do. How silly does that sound? Yet I bet you have been in this position before.

At the end of the day, you need to think about how a true friend would act. Langcaster-James pointed out that the main drivers behind not wanting to say no are fear and insecurity.

"It is usually fear and insecurity which leads someone to stay quiet, or even say 'yes' when really they want to say 'no'. Some people feel as if they would be threatening the friendship if they say 'no' and they’d rather just agree and put their own feelings aside than risk doing that. For some, the insecurity they feel goes beyond the specific friendship in question and they may feel insecure in relationships in general".

Allow yourself to be human and get the rest you deserve. Any true friend will want you to look after yourself.


No Means No

Once you have managed to actually get the word no out, you need to make sure you're being heard. If someone keeps trying to pull your arm and trying to persuade you to do something you don't want, they are simply not considering your feelings and undermining your right to choose. It might be time to rethink that friendship, or at the very least have a frank chat.

Langcaster-James has this to say on the matter, "The reality is that any relationship worth having is one that should be able to withstand you putting your own needs on the table from time to time and should not be so fragile that it would break down if you did. Sometimes a great test of the quality of a friendship can be to say 'No' to something. If you do so with respect and consideration for your friend's feelings, and they react in such a way as to make you feel bad or threaten to end the friendship, then perhaps it isn't a friendship you need in your life anyway".


So why not make your New Years' resolution asserting what you want from life because babes, it's your life, go live it.

And for more advice, insight, and wisdom, please check out Honey Langcaster-James' website