Why is it Difficult for Some People to Say No?

By HIROSHI HASHIGUCHI

When you want to say no | Photo by author

One time in high school, a friend asked for my help with his assignment and I was unable to decline his request even though I was busy and wanted to.

In Japan, most do not refuse someone’s invitations, offers or favors and often turn to say yes, being unable to say no.

It is extremely difficult to say no to the requests from friends or senior students because you feel pressured considering the relationship.

A number of the people I know expressed that they have undergone such experiences. One student said, “I was not able to turn down a dinner invite even though I wanted to.” She said, “I didn’t want to be considered as a cold person.” Another student said, “When I was asked to take on the role of a class committee by a classmate, I was not able to say no because the classmate was a close friend.” He said, “I was being considerate.”

Even when people think they’re disliked by others, they can sometimes hesitant to say no. This can make them feel uncomfortable and anxious because their doing it is against their will. Let me call this is a “psychological problem.”

What can be done to solve this “psychological problem” then?

Here are a few tips that can help you overcome this. First, you should try to change the way you think. Do not think that you would be disliked by one action which is to say no. If a friend refuses your request, would you no longer consider him or her as a friend? Of course, not. The same applies with you.

Let’s think of more concrete ways to help you say “no.”

1) Start practice by refusing with tiny matter. For example, you can refuse a grocery bag when you buy things at a supermarket.

2) When someone asks you to do something, you might be able to say “I cannot answer right now” and then later you can refuse him or her by email.

3) Learn how you can politely decline someone’s request. You can learn to say no politely. For example, instead of just saying “No, I cannot”, you can say “I am sorry but I cannot because I have another plan already. But maybe next time.”

Keep in mind that you can find ways to decline requests and this can relieve your stress or pressure that you might feel from being in the dilemma of being unable to say no.


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