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Discover How You Can Say “No” Without Feeling Guilty About It

I’ve often heard a lot of my students who have achieved financial success tell me they feel under constant pressure to help needy relatives and their requests for monetary support. They keep coming one on top of the other. How can people say no without feeling guilty about it?

No and feeling guilty are two separate things. They don’t have to go together.

Why feel it’s even necessary for you to be the one handing out all this money, especially when you can’t or you don’t want to do it?

Feeling compassion for people is always a good thing, but people asking you for help tests that compassion because how you respond teaches people how to treat you. Nobody knows how to treat you until you teach them how to do it.

So if you’re one of those folks that taught people in your life that they should come to you for money, well, now you have to un-teach them. You have to retrain them.

You said yes because you want to be a nice guy or nice gal. You want approval, and you want everybody to like you. Great. If you want to do it, then do it.

But let’s be able to say no, also. And let’s not feel guilty about it. How do you do that? You have to practice.

First of all, you’ve heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” Do you think you’re doing these people any favors by giving them money all the time? No.

Give handouts and train people to be dependent, and they can’t stand up on their own two feet. What if one day they actually have to?

How do you say no without feeling guilty? You need to learn how to say no with two things. One is compassion, and the other is kindness. Kindness is compassion in action.

If someone comes and asks you for something: your time, your money or whatever, you don’t say, “No, you jerk, go away.” That’s not a good thing to say because the energy is wrong and the words are wrong. You say it nicely. You have to practice.

You might start with one time saying, “Dear friend, I love you with all my heart. I know I’ve been able to help you before,” or “I know that you would like some help. I would love to be able to help you. However, right now that will not be possible. I apologize, but it’s not going to work. I wish you the best.”

Compassion comes from the heart and expresses itself with language that is unambiguous, firm kindness for both yourself and the person who might be crossing your boundaries.

Don’t give them any excuses like, “I have to buy a car.” Just say, “It’s not possible.” If they start pressuring you as to what you need you say, “That’s something that I’ll decide. It’s up to me to be able to share all that with you, but I’m not able to do this right now.” Don’t be pressed.

You practice with the easiest person, the person you know could possibly handle things themselves. Then you practice with more.

Here’s the big thing: If you think that feeling guilty and saying no have to go together, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to go out and ask other people for money for yourself.

Go ahead. Just go on the street and ask people for money, or go to other relatives and ask them for money. Here’s what you’re going to hear. “What? No. Sorry.”

Then you say, “Wait. If they can do it, I can do it, too!”

That’s how you get used to it. You hear other people say no. Watch what happens.

Maybe one will say yes. Most will say no. Then you get good at saying no. It’s not that hard. It’s just a habit. Separate no from feeling guilty.

Tell us what you think. Have you had the experience of money coming between you, friends, family, or business partners? What lessons did you learn from the experience? What advice would you give? Share your stories. We want to hear from you!

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19 thoughts on “Discover How You Can Say “No” Without Feeling Guilty About It”

  1. devanshu says:

    I used to feel guilty about not helping people, such that people named me wall flower, then I learnt the statement iam cruel only to be kind then I was able to do so

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    1. waheed says:

      Thank you ? very much for this piece of advise.My own way is that I don’t trust people that come to ask for money.You give them 9th time and you refuse the 10th time,you will be called names such as stingy turtle.Instead I take time to study people around me that genuinely need help and I give a surprise ? and unexpected help.I believe in the saying that givers never lack.I once read abook of R.Kiyosaki and he confessed that anytime he needs succes in an ongoing endeavour,he give needy people money and success comes his way.In my own little way I have applied this principle and it works.

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    2. James Acosta says:

      L a verdad me e sentido culpable en ocaciones en las que la gente llega a pedirme una ayuda monetaria, muchas veces la tengo disponible, pero no accedo a su peticion por dos razones: NO confio en ellos (es plata que me a costado conseguir) y la otra razaon es que estoy buscando la manera de invertirla estudiando para luego multiplicar dicha inversión.

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  2. Ioana says:

    I’ll tell you a story that happened to me 9 years ago, about this time of the year. I was selling Christmas trees and working from about 8 am to 9 pm. When we closed for lunch time for 30 minutes, I could hear people saying: “What? They went to lunch?” I wish I said: “Yes, even we need to eat”, but I didn’t. One evening, it was later than 9 pm and we were still there because we had received more trees, but we were closed. There were some people around and an old lady started to argue to let them in, saying that it’s her last chance to buy the tree, that she left her cookies in the oven to come, that we “have no heart”. I knew that if I open for her they would all enter and we’ll leave very late, but I did open. And I also cried because of her words. Guess if she bought any tree that night and guess who was there the next morning (yes the old lady who lied a night before that she was leaving town and it’s her last chance to buy the tree and who made me cry saying that we have no heart).

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    1. Starr says:

      Wow. People will lie, JUST to get their way and they always want to act as if you’re “the enemy” for following protocol, like how you had to actually close your business at closing time. Some consumer try to bully business owners, so they can have their way.
      Sad and bratty, but kinda funny lol.

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      1. JP says:

        I have just gone thru a terrible problem with several business partners who saw the money coming in and screwed over me royally. Lied about their experiences and now I cannot find them. Never again will I trust people since they lie only to benefit themselves, not the business. One thing I learned is that NOBODY KNOWS WHAT YOU THINK THEY KNOW

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  3. Analiese says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing. This was really helpful.

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  4. cathi hargaden says:

    Well my story goes; I offered to give mys ister £3000 (even though she had an accountant husband)to do up her garden for her kid. I spent months with two guys coming from Wales UK to London as their costs were cheaper and Icould trust their work. The night before they were due to start Ispoke to my sister about somethings and then she started issuing ultimatums such as when are these guys coming? they have taken so long to do this job; amnot sure if I can be bothered now. With that announcement and lack of gratitude I cancelled the job there and then. When she found out she proceeded to return home toher appartment and destroy it with rage. Needless to say three years later I dont intend to talk to her again and never had an apology for her attitude nor her behavour. Oh yes, she phoned the builder and totally insulted him when it had nothing to do with him. This is an example of when you do a good deed and the gratitude isnot there; or what I find it people feel inferior or uncomfortable about it so they actually sabotage you in trying to assist them making out in the end that you are the bad guy!! It taught me a bit lesson for myself too; if somebody gives you something always be grateful for the intention behind it; and, yes, I dont owe anybody anything in terms of family and yet if they get wind you have some money they are projecting onto you a feeling of wealth but also wanting a part of that! Shock andhorror for people to realise that is how my family behaved but its taken a lot of guilt tunnels to go through to realise that I did the right thing!! Thanks for reading.

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    1. Lourdes says:

      Your sister is a spoiled brat. And she is ungrateful. I can empathize with you. I have a similar situation–with ungrateful siblings– who feel that because I make and have more money than they do, I should mail them a monthly supplementary check. They’ve even gone as far as tell me the amount they want!

      It is sad when your own blood turns but I have told my sibling: “I love you enough to let you hate me and with your actions push me out of your life. When you are ready to be my brother, I’ll be here.” And I will be but he better treat me with a lot more kindness, respect and a different attitude.

      I used to react to my siblings temper tantrums and felt very guilty about having more than they, to the point of shame. Now? No more. Your sister needs to take a seat, rather take 2 seats. And you, well, you did nothing wrong. You can talk to her whenever you want as long as she is respectful. She’ll never apologize, as my sibling never apologize either. They are blind to their actions and truly believe that their behaviour and reasoning is correct and warranted. You live in your world and they can live in theirs. Occasionally, asleep and awake collide. Have a great year! 2016.

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  5. Starr says:

    Saying no with kindness is extremely doable. The thing is, folks will have negative reactions, no matter how kind you are with them. The key is… you just have to NOT give a **** about what people say! Once you become great with that, saying “no” will just roll off of your tongue.

    I can tell you, I have been asked by a few “serial evictees” over the years for a place to stay. First I’d think to myself “I love my clean, peaceful abode and the good energy in my home… and I wanna keep it that way. I cant invite drama into my residence, I refuse to!” After assessing the situation and having a quick chat with myself, I nicely say no. Then, that’s usually followed by “but why? You are single with two bedrooms! That’s selfish!” I dont give them any detailed responses, because I’m NOT obligated to. No one is gonna guilt ME with THEIR rudeness. Besides… just because “I” said no, the person wont be homeless. Some other sap will take them in, only to be taken advantage of, but NOT me.

    You cant help a “serial evictee” (which is usually someone who uses others and NEVER has their sh** together) by enabling them. Gotta have a backbone.
    Say no and mean it, no matter what your reason is.

    I love and agree with this article!
    Thx T. Harv♡

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  6. Simon says:

    I have helped lots of people out, but with time I learnt, you loose the money and you loose, your friend and relative, so it´s double lost!! Why loose both if you can loose none?

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  7. Chris Amara says:

    This topic is extremely very beneficial to me. The courage to say ‘no’ is indeed very vital if we want to build genuine relationships with genuine friends, relatives and associates. I am one of the millions of people in the world who rarely say no to people. The truth I’ve discovered is that most times, people just want to take advantage of your easy-giving habits and some of them label you foolish after receiving your assistance. On the other hand, I find that most of those I occasionally find courage to refuse do themselves have alternatives but they enjoy taking advantage of me. That, to me is a betrayal of trust and it really hurts. I am now encouraged by this subject to learn and practice to say ‘no’ when it’s absolutely necessary to do so.without the feeling of guilt.

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  8. Елен says:

    Вот ,где нужны Ваши уроки настойчовости – в умении говорить НЕТ , тем людям , которые привыкли просить или решать свои проблемы за счет других .

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  9. Janardhan says:

    I am the one who have been misused of my generosity. Later many show no grattitude and the worse is they call me fool from behind. Then I started saying ‘no’ politely but firmly, many have gone away. Good, isn’t it?

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  10. Karen says:

    Reading this lesson I remembered last year when a couple of friends asked me for money. One of them took a really long time to pay me back and the other one had the annoying reaction of asking me “why do you need your money back right now? What do you have to buy?”, everytime I asked her about it. And I felt just like “That’s not your business”. I have to say, once that particular person paid me back, I stopped talking to her, the attitudes she adopted after I lent her money pissed me off that much. It is very important to say no sometimes, because some people just show their worst selves when they owe you money.

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  11. Susie Howe says:

    I really appreciate this topic and all of the comments. I learned a really valuable lesson with this topic.

    I was a young mom, going through a divorce, financially strapped, broke, and needed a way out. I had two friends in Michigan, millionaires, Bob & Peter. I called Peter and his response was “I’ll back you up.” Bob’s response when I told him what was going on was different; and I’d be willing to bet that he called Peter and asked him not to answer his phone anymore because after my conversation with Bob, Peter didn’t answer.

    So Bob coached me everyday by phone through a really intense period of my life; he helped me to figure out how I could sell things, what my resources were, and was really supportive of my steps. He taught me how to fish instead of feeding me.

    At first I was a little angry but as I moved through it all, I realized that it took a lot of love for him to do this with me. Peter eventually answered the phone again once I made it to the other side.

    I had my third baby, my second son, he was named Robert Peter after these two gentlemen. I ended up taking my title to my Volvo into the bank for a loan to pay my OB doc since I had no insurance and no cash to pay my doc. My son was born 3 days after I paid my doc.

    Both guys are passed on now but I have not been in that position of needing to borrow money again for the past 25 years.

    Awesome blog, thanks again for the topic.

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  12. Tshepo says:

    Don’t say yes when you want to say no,You’re the best Harv.

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  13. Olebile says:

    Saying Yes, when we should say No is one of the reasons many of our goals have failed over the years. Thanks for the objectivity Harv.

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  14. José Flores, says:

    This really true, I was feel guilty, to say no, now I learn, thank you T, H, some people take advantage, for everything,

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