Six Effective Techniques To Learn To Deny Yourself


Are you unable to refuse to do favors for any friend who asks you? Is it difficult for you to cut the conversation when a telemarketer makes you a supposedly tempting offer on the phone? Do you think you can offend others if you answer “no” to their requests?

Knowing how to say “no” when they propose something to us that we do not feel like or ask us for help and we cannot or want to give it is of vital importance to gain self-confidence and protect self-esteem , however, there are many people who find it difficult do it out of fear, guilt or indecision . How to acquire the strategies to learn to value and put your own opinions, needs and desires first? The answers below:

What are the reasons why it is difficult for us to say no?
The reasons can be very diverse, but experts stand out as the most frequent:

  • Because we believe it is a lack of education . Fear of the reaction of others is one of the most common causes that makes it difficult to say “no”. Some for not wanting to hurt or offend, others because they fear the reaction of the petitioner when they say no.
  • Because it produces feelings of guilt . Some people believe that to meet the expectations that others have of them they should never say “no.” For example, thinking that someone will believe that you are not their friend if you do not do them a certain favor. These thoughts are often exaggerated. You are not a bad person for not doing a favor or for prioritizing your own interests. It is not about being selfish and always putting yourself above others but you should not always put yourself below yourself.
  • Due to low self-esteem . In general, people with low self-esteem often have a hard time saying “no.” Due to negative feelings about oneself, they tend to generate avoidance behaviors of certain actions that they believe they will not know how to face, including denying themselves.
  • Because we seek the approval of others . In this case, the opinion of others is overvalued over our own because we always want to look good, that we are considered responsible and kind.
  • Because we take responsibility for everything. Taking responsibility or getting involved in any way with any matter for the common good or the group.
  • Because this way we avoid conflict situations.
  • Because by helping others we hope that they will help us in the future if we need it.

How can we say no?
The specialists point out that before considering certain communication strategies to say “no” it is convenient, first, to detect those previous situations in which we have said “yes” but we would have liked to say “no”. Also reviewing in what contexts they occur to us and with what people.

Then would come the analysis of the thoughts and emotions that make us say “yes” when we want to say “no.” And finally, analyze the intentionality of the other: what kind of relationship we have with that person, what do we think they expect of us, if they try to manipulate us, what degree of trust they have with us …

Among the different strategies that can help us say “no” are:

Elementary assertiveness: Explain our refusal in a simple, direct way and giving a brief explanation of why that “no”.


  • Do you come to the movies when you leave work?
  • No thanks, I have things to do this afternoon.

Empathic assertiveness: We put ourselves first in the other’s point of view, we validate their arguments and how they feel and then we expose our point of view. Finally, we will express something positive to mitigate the negative charge of “no”, helping the other person not to feel offended. It is what is known as the sandwich technique or sandwich technique .


  • I’m sorry your car broke down, how unlucky, but I can’t give you mine this weekend because I need it. I’m sorry I can’t help you this time but I like that you have me when you need it.

The fog bank : It is a strategy that usually works very well in the face of the repeated insistence of the other, when he pressures or blackmails us very clearly and if the previous strategies have not previously worked. It consists of giving a part of reason to the argument of the other person but remaining firm in our position. To put it into practice we have two options: agree with the truth by acknowledging what they propose to us (you are right, it is true, it is true that …) and another option would be to agree with the possibility (it is possible, you may be right, at the better…).


  • It is true that what you offer me is tempting but I do not want to make that decision now, it is not a good time for me.

Assertive postponement: A very effective technique when the situation overwhelms us and we are not prepared to make a decision at the moment. The best thing is to delay the answer and say that we must reflect on the proposal.


  • I can not answer you at this time, let me see what I have for the next few days and I will confirm something tomorrow. 

Assertive agreement technique : A good technique when it is believed that the refusal can lead to misinterpretations about our intentions or personality or when there is an attempt at emotional blackmail. The refusal is exposed, clarifying that it has nothing to do with wanting or not wanting or being a good or bad person.


  • I can’t accompany you to the party because I have a lot of work. It’s not about loving you more or less.

Scratched record technique: Also very effective against insistence. It consists of repeating a small argument and the “no”, over and over again, keeping calm at all times. Without entering into discussions or paying attention to possible provocations. Nor should any further reasons or justifications be given.

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