9 Easier Ways to Say 'No' -- Because You Just Gotta

9 Easier Ways to Say 'No' -- Because You Just Gotta
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Ever find yourself chaperoning your kid's field trip even though you're behind on work? Letting someone borrow your car even though you need it? Volunteering to have book club at your house even though you're sick as a dog? All these problems could be avoided -- and your stress level drastically reduced -- with just one simple, magical word.


For some of us, it's incredibly hard to say. You're a people pleaser. Worried others will be hurt. It's easier to overload yourself than "rock the boat."

But "saying no is emotionally healthy," says Judith Orloff, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. "Setting clear, firm, loving boundaries with people will protect your energy and serenity as well as support healthy relationships."

Click through to learn how. 

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  • Use "I'm not interested" body language.

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    "Turn your body away from someone when you're telling them [no]," advises Dr. Orloff. That subtle shift will help get your message across.

  • Be direct.


    No need to hem and haw and give a billion excuses as to why you can't do something. Instead, keep your response to the point. Check out this script from Dr. Orloff: "I'd love to, but I'm sorry I'm unable to because my commitments won't allow me to do that right now." Done.

  • Extricate yourself.

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    Find yourself trapped by a chronic talker? You don't need to get sucked into his or her monologue for the next 30. Of course, you don't want to scream "No more!" and run away. But you can gently put an end to the madness, Dr. Orloff says. Your script: "It's been lovely talking to you, but I must excuse myself to go to the bathroom."

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  • Go to your happy place.

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    "Visualize a shield of golden light extending approximately three inches from your body which protects you from experiencing a barrage of requests and demands," advises Dr. Orloff. "This lets you keep your center when someone is asking something of you that you're unable to do." (Or don't want to.)

  • Do a handoff.

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    You love your friend. You don't love her un-house-trained dog, which she's asked you to take care of for the next two weeks. What to do: Say no while offering a solution to her dilemma, Dr. Orloff suggests. To whit: "Thank you so much for asking me. Though I can't do it myself, you should call that new dog hotel that just opened up. I heard it's great."

  • Remember: No is enough.

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    “In The Empath's Survival Guide, I suggest this affirmation: 'No' is a complete sentence," says Dr. Orloff. "By reminding yourself of this, you won't feel guilty about turning someone down or get into long explanations about why you can't do something. Keep this affirmation on your desk [or in the] kitchen where you can see it easily." 

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  • Stay Strong.

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    Being friends with someone who complains about everything but doesn't like ANY of the solutions you offer can be draining. To deal, Dr. Orloff recommends limiting your time with her. "You can tell her, 'I can listen to you for only five minutes unless you want to get into solutions to your problems,'" says Dr. Orloff. "Say it with a loving but firm tone." 

  • Let others know you can't be much help.


    Dr. Orloff advises putting a full stop on a deluge of requests by saying, "I'm sorry but I'm not comfortable doing what you're asking. It's not my area of expertise." Who's going to press that point?


  • Guide others Into accepting your "No."

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    It's kinda like a Jedi mind trick: "Say, 'I'd love to go to the party with you, but I'm just too tired,'" advises Dr. Orloff. "'I need to take care of myself and rest. Thank you for being such a good friend and understanding this.'" They won't know what hit them.

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