This is part of my series on How To Be A Good Person.
A reader wrote:
My neighbor invited me to go camping with his family. I hate camping. I want to sleep in my own bed and not on the hard and cold ground. I don’t want bugs crawling in my mouth. How do I say No?
Saying No is difficult. You worry about hurting others and losing their approval. As a result, I imagine you agree to numerous things you don’t want to do and resent it later.
But let’s turn the tables. Imagine you invite your neighbor to your upcoming Dungeons & Dragons night, but they secretly don’t like D&D (or anything fantasy-related). They’d prefer to stay home and binge M*A*S*H reruns.
Would you be irate if they politely declined? Would you flip over tables and chairs? Of course not! You’re a reasonable person. You might feel a tinge of disappointment, but you’d get over it. Furthermore, you’d prefer they say No instead of showing up and being miserable the whole time.
Likewise, trust that your neighbor won’t get upset and hate you when you say No to their camping trip. Just say, “Thanks for the invite, but camping isn’t my thing. But I hope you have a good time.”
Saying No is uncomfortable for everyone, but it won’t ruin your relationship.
Thanks to Steve Shepherd for reading drafts of this.