If you have difficulty saying no when someone asks you to do something, you’re certainly not alone. The issue affects countless individuals every day.

Does this sound like you? If so, don’t panic. There’s absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty telling someone that you aren’t in a position to assist them. Believe it or not, saying no can actually put you ahead of the game. Continue reading to learn more about how to politely decline requests for help and feel comfortable doing it.

Sleep on It

When someone asks you for your assistance or invites you to a gathering or event, try to allow yourself at least 24 hours to give that person your answer. This typically represents adequate time to decide whether or not the task is worth doing, as well as considering what’s already on your upcoming schedule.

Allow Others to Step In

Saying no to a request for help means that you’re giving other individuals the chance to step in to assist with a project, event or whatever needs to be done. These people may be able to contribute in ways that you would have never considered, making it a win-win situation all the way around.

Avoid a “Should” Mindset

While you might think of several reasons you “should” say yes, it doesn’t mean it’s necessary to do so. Never guilt yourself into something you really don’t want to do. Chances are, it will make the job much more difficult because you don’t have your heart in it.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries – in both your professional and personal life – is a wonderful way to help you with the art of saying no. Don’t hesitate to let people know when you are and are not available. This narrows down the possibility that you’ll be asked to do something, during your “I’m not available” time slots.

Suggest an Alternative

You always have the option of suggesting an alternative, if you’d like to help out in a less time-consuming or easier manner. If nothing else, consider suggesting someone else for the task. However, make sure you speak with the potential replacement before volunteering that individual for the job.

Kick “Maybe” to the Curb

Although you may be tempted to say “maybe” as a safe and comfortable alternative to saying no, it’s generally never a good idea. Why? You just might be setting yourself up for continued requests for help or invitations until you actually decide to decline.

In the event the individual continues to persist, try this. Explain that you’d really like to lend a hand, but you simply don’t have time. In addition, consider telling them that if your calendar does clear you may be in touch.

Of course, there will still be times when you just can’t say no and that’s okay too. Some family obligations follow you throughout your lifetime. But remember, saying no doesn’t mean you’re being selfish. It simply means that you’re choosing to focus on the obligations you already have. By not spreading yourself too thin, you end up devoting high-quality time to things already on your plate.