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How to Say No Without Guilt

Updated on November 6, 2010

Most people prefer the path of least resistance. They are not all that fond of confrontation. That is why they may opt not to say no in a relationship. One reason for this is that they assume saying no will harm the relationship. Honestly, it is more likely that the opposite is true. An utter lack of assertiveness can undermine a relationship more than anything else.

Why is this so? When you are in a serious relationship, the two parties may have an interrelation that extends to personal, professional, and financial responsibilities. Decisions based on these serious things must be made properly. At times, that can require saying no. For example, if credit card balances are piling up due to unnecessary purchases, someone has to say "no more" to future purchases. This would prove beneficial to all parties in the relationship.

Of course, a lot of tack is required in order to say no in a relationship. When you say no in an aggressive manner completely lacking in tact, it will not deliver any positive results. Rather, it will drive a wedge between all the parties which is NOT the best outcome. If there was a rule to follow, it would be that you should never say no in a manner that undermines the relationship. This is a rule that you should NEVER violate.

This does raise questions regarding how you should approach saying no. Relax, it is not all that complicated. It simply involves common sense and politeness. Both of these attributes will take you a long way.

One of the best ways to say no without undermining a relationship is to always explain why you are saying no. Just to say no and dig in your heels without providing any explanation can cause unwarranted conflict and upset. This makes the other party resentful because it seems as if the person saying no is doing so to be spiteful or condescending. While this may not be the reality of the matter these are the feelings that often go along side hearing the negative response. It is not providing an explanation that leads to such misunderstandings.

You also need to know when to say no. If you are always saying no or downing the other person's decisions or opinions, you will undermine the relationship. You cannot have things your way all the time. Even when you are not very interested in saying yes, you may have to because it would be for the greater good of the relationship.

It does not hurt to change your mind if it turns out "no" is not the right answer. But, be sure to avoid being a "flip-flopper" as well. A person that is deemed indecisive generally will not be respected. That is because the word of such a person carries no real meaning.

Saying no does have its place in a relationship. However, when that two letter word is used inappropriately, it can harm a relationship. Conversely, when used properly, it can strengthen one. Follow these two maxims and you can keep a relationship on the right track.


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    • IvoryMelodies profile image

      IvoryMelodies 7 years ago

      So, so true, and in any relationship. It should be so easy, and yet we make it so hard. Thanks for your perspective on this. Very thought-provoking hub.