how to say no without hurting someone's feelings?

How to say NO to someone without hurting their feelings?

Saying ” NO ” at early stages to something that annoys you, irritates, or goes against your principles is undoubtedly heavy to pronounce, especially to someone whom you have empathy towards.
However, throwing it concisely with courage will – in most cases – make your life a lot easier. It will minimize your struggle, avoid you overthinking, and so forth. Based on that, mastering the skill of saying ” NO ” will conserve everybody’s time and energy. Therefore, the question remains: How to say no to someone without hurting their feelings?

WHY saying “NO” is critical :

  • Pretty much everyone would agree that if you keep holding back things for a long period of time, they’re gonna come one day when the slightest fire, the slightest actions -which they can be easy to surpass and Neglect- is a tipping point where a person explodes and get their mind entirely out. Therefore, Accumulating irritating things will not serve you well in the long or the short term.
  • Saying Yes is quite easy, reassuring, and positive.” YES” will make us loved by others, but sadly – in a lot of cases – it makes our life miserable. what happens is: we say yes with excitement, three days later we find ourselves overwhelmed and frustrated by our obligations even though we were the ones who agreed to them in the first place.

how to say no without hurting someone's feelings?

The thinking process that will help you decide to say “NO”

1- Honesty is the best policy when it comes to saying NO :

Gather some courage, be straight to the point of why you need to say ” NO “. When the situation is critical it becomes a ‘don’t think twice’ moment in which you have to say no.

2- “Hell Yeah or No” method from Derek Sivers:

If someone asks you to do something and your first reaction is “Hell Yeah!”, then do it. If it doesn’t excite you, then say NO.

There are many expressions that lessen the severity of saying NO to a loved one. In your daily life, you might encounter friends or family who insist on some matter (which happens all the time) and you don’t want to leave any room for maybe. In those situations, a great way to say “NO” is to be clear about how you feel. For that purpose, you can use these phrases:

1-I am really sorry but I have to say “NO”

2- I am over-committed right now and I know if I say yes I won’t be able to do my best work.

when you share those kinds of details, It’s really difficult for someone else to continue putting pressure on you to say yes.

3- I am afraid that I can’t, I have another commitment
4-I would help you if I could but…

The hardest situation when you can say NO is when you’ve already said YES to someone; in other words to back out of something. You might need to back out of a commitment, back out of a meeting, or an invitation, etc. Doing that definitely comes with a lot of feelings of regret, guilt, or even embarrassment that you have to say no. It might be because of an emergency, a crisis at work, or a sickness but you still have to say no to that certain something. Here is how to do it :

1-Apologize and explain why you have to say no:

Apologizing is the first step to get done before you explain your reasoning. In case you prefer not to apologize you could thank the person for the opportunity/invitation that they offered you and you could explain your reasons why after that.

2-Give an alternative:

When backing out of a commitment where you promised you’d help someone do something, it’s better to give them an alternative than it is to leave them dry. Let’s say you promised to help somebody study, but you can’t do it because of some emergency, you could offer the person you promised an alternative option: be it you find them another tutor, you give them tips on how to do it one their own…

3-Share your hopes:

Share with the person you’re saying no to what you hope will happen. you will understand better what we mean in the next example.

Here is an example that bundles up the three ideas :

I am so sorry but I won’t be able to stay late tonight and help you finish the project. My daughter is sick and I need to be home with her. But I’ll send out an email to others on the team to see if anyone else is available. I really hope we can find someone.


To summarize, as you become a key person in society, family, or work, saying a justified ” NO ” is a must skill to master to help yourself avoid over-committing and optimize your use of time.