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Ask Evergreen: Respectful Rejector

Learn how to say no respectfully

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Ask Evergreen is a weekly advice column by the students of The Lumberjack

Dear Evergreen,

How do I learn to say no?

Dear Respectful Rejector,

Sometimes it’s hard to say no for fear of disappointing someone or seeming incapable of accomplishing a task. But saying no is a healthy way to protect yourself from unwanted stress. There are a few ways you can retrain yourself to accept the art of rejecting.

You shouldn’t feel ashamed to say no, no matter the question. You don’t have to please everyone, so don’t worry about letting someone down. You aren’t being selfish by declining a request. You’re being self-considerate.

Have a solid reason for why you can’t agree to do something. We all experience apathy from time to time, but don’t let laziness be the cop-out for stepping away from an activity. Maybe you’ve spread yourself too thin and just need a chance to collect your thoughts. Remember to not overbook yourself by agreeing to things before recognizing the reality of your limited time and energy.

It’s important to set boundaries when it comes to limiting your willingness to participate in activities you’d rather not do or don’t have the time for. Express your discomfort at a request. Maybe you don’t feel safe doing a task, or the person asking for assistance doesn’t truly appreciate you for your work. It’s okay to put yourself first.

Don’t let people take advantage of you for favors, and don’t let people continue to do so just because you’ve agreed upon things in the past. Be kind and assertive with your decline, and make sure they understand how they’re making you feel obligated.

Always remember you have the power to say yes or no to whatever you choose. Anyone who undermines your decisions or tries to convince you otherwise is a manipulative force who shouldn’t be allowed to deviate your conclusions.

No, you can!



If you have any questions you’d like to send in, email us at We won’t publish any names and you don’t need to use one.

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