Want to say No but not able to? Read this!

Saying No has its advantages and disadvantages. Saying No at the right time could save a life and saying No at a wrong time could hurt someone beyond repair. Just as there are ways to say bitter truth in a palatable way, there are ways to say No in a positive way.


want to say no but unable to?

To say No to others when you are unable to or unwilling to do something can get difficult if you are too sensitive to others’ feelings. To be sensitive to others is a praiseworthy quality but undue sensitivity can land you in serious problems.

Similarly, being helpful is certainly great but overdoing it could be exhausting and even irritating. A research says that offering help to colleagues too often can adversely affect your own performance. Even for a professional “toxic handler”, simply listening to a colleague’s grievances and venting can feel like an energy-sucker. Saying No to people who want you to say Yes becomes a greater challenge once they get used to your Yes.

We can classify four general categories of people: 1) those willing to help others and able to do so, 2) those willing to help others but unable to do so, 3) those wanting to avoid helping others but nonetheless helping, and 4) those not helping others.

Apart from these, there is a distinct category of people who keep extending themselves to others beyond their capacity. They are unable to say No to others for two reasons: 1) they believe that by saying No they will hurt the other party, 2) they are afraid to say No for some other reason, like a threat or fear.

If you are one among those who think that by saying No you hurt the other party, then think again. While your intention may be great when you avoid to say No, there are times when your No could help them more than your Yes. Likewise, there are times when your Yes could harm them more than your No.

If this sounds complicated, take this example: Mr A asks his friend, Mr B, to help him get a better job than what he already has an offer for. Mr B does not know where to find a better job but just because his dear friend has asked him to help, he feels obliged to say Yes. Mr B spends days to find a job of his friend’s choice but is unable to get one. Meanwhile Mr A ignores the existing offer and waits for a better job only to find, after the last date of joining, that his friend could not find it. Mr A starts blaming Mr B for having given false promise and Mr A says he tried his best.

Two things happen: 1) Mr A remains jobless, 2) Their friendship falls apart. This shows not all good intentions can yield good results. One needs to realize one’s limitations while offering or accepting to help others. On the other hand, the person asking help needs to be practical enough to realize if the other party can help him as expected before it is too late.

This is why it is very important to learn how to say No to others, including to friends. Mind you, we are not talking about being selfish here. Saying No itself does not make one selfish just as saying Yes itself does not make one generous and helpful.

It is said, phalena parichiyate – an action is known by its result. On the other hand, it is also said that attitude is more important than the result. Both sayings are correct when taken in right context. A person may help someone to oblige him and exploit him later on. At the same time, a person may fail to help someone while trying his or her best. At the end of the day, in a success story, what counts is both, attitude and result.

Saying No has its advantages and disadvantages. Saying No at the right time could save a life and saying No at a wrong time could hurt someone beyond repair. Just as there are ways to say bitter truth in a palatable way, there are ways to say No in a positive way.

Modern society has invented many seemingly nice ways to say No. While this works in cases when the receiving party is from the same culture and mindset, it causes hurtful feelings and bitterness if such No is not clear enough to people from a different culture.

“”But in a recent post on Mental Floss, Shaunacy Ferro highlighted some advice for getting better at “no,” in work and in life: Choose your words carefully. A refusal that includes “don’t” — as in, “I don’t answer emails on a Saturday night” — is more powerful than one centered around “can’t.”

The observation comes from a 2012 study in the Journal of Consumer Research, which found that the way a statement was framed had an effect on how well people thought they could stick to it. Saying “I don’t eat X” when tempted by an unhealthy snack, for example, made participants feel more “psychologically empowered” than using “can’t.” The same held true with a scenario about resolving to exercise each day: “I don’t skip my workout” was a more powerful motivator to get to the gym than “I can’t skip my workout.”” (Source)

This boils down to a simple psychological principle: regardless of whether we are talking to ourselves or to another person, “can’t” suggests that we might want to do something, but are not able to. On the other hand, when we say “I don’t”, it implies that we have resolved not to do something and there is no room for any change.

Although saying “I don’t” is clear and useful in many ways, it also has its air of being rude. This can make it unpleasant. However, if you are sure you don’t want to do something, then, instead of beating around the bush and finding yourself in an awkward position, it is good to say a polite yet firm No. Saying No when it is essential can save you lots of hassle and brain work trying to find ways to avoid doing it. It also saves time for you and the receiving party.

Saying No to wrong requests and offers should be done without any hesitation. One should not take the risk of losing his or her own integrity due to peer pressure. We don’t want to say No when it comes to helping others but we need to realize that we are not God, nor can we ever be God, the Supreme controller of anything and everything. This makes it honest to say No when we know we cannot do something, even if we want to.

Despite all this, if you are kind-hearted and like to help others, you are likely to continue having difficulty saying No. There isn’t much to  worry though if you know how the law of karma works. When you do good to others in real sense of the term, it becomes punya karma, or pious deed, and the result of such actions is multi-fold benefits in the future. Moreover, if your help is spiritual in nature, meaning if it helps someone come closer to God, then such an action is considered devotional service, which results in immeasurable and imperishable benefits.  We need to know the real need of people. Giving sweets to someone who we do not know is diabetic may appear like a help but it is actually harm. Similarly, helping others to be happy without knowing what is the real happiness could lead them to misery. Bhagavad Gita teaches us what is true and lasting help. The best help is to make a person realize his or her original identity as a spirit soul beyond material conditioning.

In conclusion, learning to say No when needed is essential for a healthy life, both social and personal. Not saying No when you cannot or don’t want to do something can lead to increasing difficulties for you and confusion for others. Result is important but attitude is equally or more important. Helping others is encouraged but realizing our limitations is of prime value while trying to do so. Extending ourselves is good so far it does not become an emotional torture to us, or else it could lead to angry outbursts hurting those who we intend to help. Helping without understanding one’s real need can be harmful. Real help can be done only when we know the original identity of a person. Helping someone come closer to God is the best help.


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