When you want to set priorities, you’re going to have to say “no” sometimes. And it’s not an easy task if you like to keep things harmonious, are someone who has a habit of agreeing with everything, or enjoy helping people.

Here are four bits of advice to help you say “no” more easily:

1. Provide a simple answer. Be clear and direct as opposed to explaining at length why you want to say “no.” You are your own boss. Clear-cut body language can be your friend here. Keep in mind that no one has to give you permission to say “no,” and you don’t have to excuse yourself for setting a boundary.

2. Ask for time to consider. Take enough time to think through your answer if you are having a hard time saying “no.” If you give yourself the occasion to think about the situation, you can be more resolute as you stand your ground.

3. Suggest a compromise if you’d like to say “yes” but cannot take on the entire task.

4. Don’t feel guilty for saying “no.” You do not have to say “yes” to everything: those who do so all the time are more likely to be taken advantage of because of their good nature and willingness to help. Sometimes “no” can be a very useful word: for example, children have to told “no” at times, because otherwise they will not develop self-control or learn to manage frustration in a healthy way.

Think about why it is difficult for you to say “no” so that you can work on modifying this behavior in the long run. Having a clear sense of why it is so difficult for you can help you get past these reservations or worries.

Here’s another little impulse to consider: Think about how you respond when someone says “no” to you.

  • Do you accept the situation when someone says “no,” or do you try to talk them out of it?
  • Are your feelings hurt when someone does not comply with your request? Do you make their “no” all about you – in other words, do you take it personally?

Once you have realized that everyone has the right to say “no” – even if that someone is you – it will be easier for you to stay firm and not link that process to negative feelings. Give it a try: you’ll see that it can be liberating to say “no” from time to time