That nasty feeling when you want to say “no” but you can’t. We agree to get rid of it as quickly as possible. But paying for consent makes it even worse: now we are weighed down by the role of a victim, a hostage of our own weak character. Eight actionable tips will help change the state of affairs.

1. Remember: You can’t please everyone.

“You can’t be everyone’s lifesaver” is the first rule to repeat until it changes your behavior. If there is no clear line on how and when you should say “no”, expect moral exhaustion. By refusing other people, you risk ruining your relationship with them, but they will not use you.

2. Keep Your Interests in Mind

Every coin has a downside: a short “no” to one thing is nothing more than a succinct “yes” to something else. Just think of the things you can do if you don’t take on the burdens of others. With this approach, the feeling of guilt will go away and will no longer remind of itself.

3. Avoid excuses

As a rule, we want to back up our refusal with a large portion of reasons and details. But it’s better to be simple and concise. If you go into details, you run the risk of making a slip, getting confused, or convicting yourself of insincerity. Here you have to agree, and this is not included in your plans.

4. Think and Prepare for Rejection in Advance

The strategy is to always be on the lookout. You can prepare a chain of questions in advance that will help you find a good reason for refusing. For example, take a break and ask yourself: do you have time for this, is it profitable for you, what are the risks for the relationship with a person? Then answer “no” confidently, but not abruptly.

5. Analyze how your decision has been influenced in the past

Each of us has said “yes” many times in the same situations with the same people. You are constantly being pushed onto this beaten path, and it’s time to learn how to turn off it. Recognize that dirty tricks are being used against you and trying to manipulate you. Remain calm and drive confidently to the side.

6. Do not invent synonyms, there is only “no” for you

Limit your vocabulary to one word “no”. Forget about “maybe”, “maybe” and even “nope”. Strength is in unambiguity, there should be no place even for a hint of misinterpretation. Your play on words is interpreted by the other side as an uncertain “yes”. Only an undeniable “no” is acceptable.

7. Suggest an alternative

It happens that you are approached out of desperation, when ideas dry up and the solution to the problem is covered in fog. In such a situation, you act as a guardian angel, who knows better from above. Evaluate the question from your bell tower and advise an alternative. Sow a thought in someone else’s head, and the person will be grateful to you for the fact that you, in fact, refused.

8. Beware of apologies

Don’t think, saying something like “I’m sorry” is still worth it. But bending your back in a bow is already unnecessary. We exaggerate because your courtesy can be mistaken for weakness. You are a flint, and your “no” is unshakable.