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Saying No For Pushovers And People Pleasers

Updated on February 21, 2019

Are you a people pleaser or a pushover?

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Saying No For Pushovers

The second of the two most common types of people that have trouble saying no are generally called pushovers or welcome mats. These are the types of people that will hold a door open for an entire crowd of people to enter a building, even when they’re already late to whatever they were on their way to when they got stuck holding the door. People end up in these kinds of positions for a variety of reasons, including a lack of self-confidence. Here are a handful of different ways that you can learn how to say no if you can identify yourself as a pushover.

  • Know what is important to say no to.

Before anything else, take the time to sit down and decide what things are important to say no to in your eyes. If you have plans on Friday, then take the extra effort to tell yourself that it is important to you that you do not say yes to anything that will interfere with those plans. In order to be able to effectively say no with confidence, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to say no to.

  • Give yourself permission to be just as resolute as the person approaching you is.

There is nothing wrong with standing your ground, but it is always more difficult when the other person continues to push after you have already said no. It’s not wrong to keep saying no if they keep asking the same thing. If they’re not going to give up easily, then you need to be just as firm. Give yourself the unwritten permission to be just as resolute and pushy as the person responsible for the other half of the conversation. You can even make a little joke about how you plan on being just as stubborn and firm as they’re being.

  • Make your busy schedule known before anyone requests that you add to it.

Most people are generally respectful, so if they know that you’re already busy they won’t ask you to add more responsibilities. The other situation that this comes in handy is when there are people that repeatedly ask for things. An example of this might be your boss making multiple requests of your time. Have a conversation with them before you begin work and ask them where they want you to be. Then if they come back later asking you to do other things, you have a previous conversation to rely on.

  • Gather all of your courage and hold onto it when the time to say no comes.

For those of us that are used to saying yes to everything, it’s difficult to even think about saying no to something. You might feel like saying no will make you a bad friend, that you’re going to be letting someone down, or that you are going to end up disappointing someone’s expectations. You might even be afraid of the way that the person will react when you decline them.

  • In order to face those possibilities, you’ll need courage.

It’s a challenge to say no to people, that’s not a surprise. It’s even harder to tell someone that you cannot help them, or that you do not want to help them, especially when they are friends or family. A lot of people’s issues with sticking up for themselves are due to the upbringing that they received. If you were in a home as a child, or teenager, and taught that bringing up your own concerns was something that should not be shared, then you most likely have adapted that mindset as an adult. In a more predominantly male society, it might be harder for any woman to be assertive about what they want due to the mentality everyone has that most things are ‘man-made’ or ‘a job for a man’.

It is not uncommon to always want to be the peacemaker of your friend group either. Making sure that your friends are happy is always a key point in every single friendship. No one wants to see their friends unhappy, sad, or in a situation that you cannot assist with. However, if you start helping your friends out more and more often without doing the things that you need to do in order to continue taking care of yourself, it begins to become a real issue. You should always be the most important person in your life because that’s really what it is: your life. Living for yourself and sticking up for yourself is extremely important. It’s not anyone’s fault, though, if you simply can’t automatically stick up for yourself right off the bat without any help. The assertive mentality is one that most people need to learn how to adopt correctly.

It is important that everyone is aware that even though someone is assertive, it does not mean that the person who is assertive cannot also be kind, caring, and helpful towards others. It simply means that if they say no to a certain situation, you will not be able to push them over and try to beg them to change their mind. Usually if you are more assertive (in a respectable way), it will boost your self-confidence and make you feel better about yourself. Usually people will start to treat you with more respect as well, which is never a bad thing.

Saying No For People Pleasers

One of the two types of people that have the most trouble saying no are people pleasers. These types of people are so concerned with making sure that everyone else is happy that they will bury their own needs in order to make other people happy. If you’re a people pleaser, you don’t need me to tell you how debilitating and exhausting that can be. People pleasers are the type that can’t stand the idea of someone else needing something and not getting it. So something as simple as their cell phone buzzing with a new text message during a period of time where they do not have the time to chat can distract them from the work at hand and ruin their productivity. It’s easy to say that the best way to avoid that kind of distraction is to just turn off your phone, but it’s not as easy to enforce that kind of rule. It doesn’t completely get rid of the request that you’re faced with either, it just puts it off for later.

One of the most difficult parts of saying no for a people pleaser is the nagging feeling that you’re being a jerk for doing so. That is not the cast at all. Saying no when you need to isn’t selfish. But remembering that is easier said than done. The best way to make saying no easier on yourself is to learn how to do it in the most polite way possible. Listed below are a few different tips for saying no in a respectful way that even the softest of people pleasers will be happy with.

  • Remember to show your appreciation.

People don’t usually ask you for things in an attempt to be disrespectful. They ask because they know you’re capable, they respect you, or any number of other things that ultimately mean that they think you’re the right person for the task. So remember to thank them for coming to you.

  • Point your no at the request itself and not at the person asking it.

It’s important to remember that you’re saying no to the request itself, whatever it may be, and not the person that’s making it. So when you do say no, make sure that that’s clear. It’s alright to let the person that you’re talking to know that you would love to do other things with them, or that you’d love to take up their offer at a later date. You can even rebuff their request and follow it up with your own; ask them to lunch or something that you’re more comfortable with!

  • Explain why you can’t accept their request.

You don’t have to give up your entire life story, or all of your future plans, but it’ll help you feel better about declining someone’s offer if you make it well-known that you can’t make it because you have other things that you need to do. Be honest, it’ll make you feel better and it’ll ensure that the person that you’re declining doesn’t get the wrong idea.

  • Practice makes perfect.

This adage is just as applicable here as it is anywhere else. There are plenty of examples of times when you can say no in order to give yourself a little boost of confidence without putting yourself in a high risk situation. Instead of making up some polite way of dancing around the question, directly say no to your waiter or waitress when they ask you if you would like to have dessert. Clearly say no the next time someone tries to sell you something that you don’t want. You can even just walk into an empty room and say no to absolutely nothing. The more you say it the easier it becomes.


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