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Mental Health

7 Easy Ways to Take Control and Say ‘No’ More Often

Sometimes family assumes you’re at their beck and call and will drop everything to help out. It’s hard to tell your loved ones “no” when you want to help, but if their demands are in any way inconvenient, say you’ll have to check your calendar first and get back to them. You can always ring up later and politely decline due to “prior arrangements.” There is no need to go into details, as you’ll sound more convincing than making up some elaborate excuse as to why you can’t help. Here are some other ways to draw proper boundaries.

Attending Get-Togethers

If you’ve been cajoled into attending a family gathering and there’s no way of getting out of it, make a compromise and leave early. That way you still please everyone but know that you have an escape route! Be polite and warn the hosts you’ll be leaving early, and if there’s any fuss, gently remind them that at least you’re attending.

Lending to Your Children

If your child is asking for a large loan or favor and you feel obligated to say yes, put it in context. Is this request just the latest in a long line? If you’ve always said yes, then it’s time to break the cycle. This way you won’t be seen as a doormat in the long-term. Something like, “It’s a tough time for me at the moment, and I’ll have to look at my finances.” This should make them realize that they can’t turn to the “Bank of mom and Dad” every time.

Saying “No” to Friends

If you always feel tricked into saying “yes” right away to social events you’d rather not attend, try saying something like, “Let me check with my husband/partner to see whether we’re free that day.” This should buy you a little extra time and you can turn down the invite at a later date. 

The Friend Who’s Always Borrowing Things (and Doesn’t Give Them Back)

If this annoys you but you don’t know how to broach the subject, try making a list of the outstanding items, and saying, “Could you help me track these down… I’m having a sort out at home and I need them back by the end of this week.” They should get the hint.

The Neighbors Asking You to Babysit Their Pets 

If you feel they’re taking advantage, try a one-line sentence such as, “I’m sorry, but that’s not a good weekend for me.” If you’re worried that by refusing you won’t be liked, remember, it’s unreasonable to expect you to be available all the time.

Saying “No” to Salespeople

Tell door-to-door salesmen that you’ve recently switched or upgraded whatever they’re selling, so won’t need their services. If they’re persistent, you can always say “Goodbye” then shut your door and lock it. 

You could also place a card in the window saying “no salespeople please.” There’s no need to hide behind the curtains when they knock — just carry on with what you were doing beforehand. They’ll quickly get the message and you’ll find cold-callers soon stop coming round.


Be firm, abrupt, and remember the golden rule that as the customer, you’re in charge. It’s the sales caller who needs to earn your trust and business. You have the power to end the phone-call at any time.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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