Recently I have been having a lot of troubles with my friends, when they ask me to do something and I say no, because I don't like it or I don't want to do it.

Friend: Wanna dance with me?
Me: No, thanks
Friend: Oh c'mon!, dance with me!
Me: No...
Friend 2: Man, don't be rude, dance with her
Me: But I don't want to :/
Friend 2: You are being an a**hole
Me: :/

Maybe I should be less rude, or I don't know maybe people expect to get an excuse when I say no, but everybody now thinks I'm a rude person just for saying no... So are there are better ways to say no?

I don't think people should force you to do whatever they want. If you want to then it is okay, but if you don't want to, people don't have to criticize you.

  • 1
    Related: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/545/…
    – apaul
    Jul 31, 2017 at 20:42
  • 3
    @AllTheKingsHorses First, comments do not have the features to vet anything that is said here... and folks here will work hard to curate this collection of knowledge, so when someone finally comes looking for answers through search, the last thing we should be doing is sending them elsewhere to find that information. Showing them the door might seem helpful in a single instance, but link-only answers and answering curtly in comments ultimately defeats the entire purpose of having this site. Jul 31, 2017 at 21:00
  • Related : interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/17/how-to-say-no As you can see, that question is closed because it's too broad. You really should define who you're dealing with, and in what situation (work? school? family gathering?). Where you live may help too to narrow down the question :)
    – Vylix
    Aug 1, 2017 at 3:59

3 Answers 3


At first, you do not have to do anything you don't want to: you call the shots on it, after all. On the other hand, there are those that will try to pressure you into doing what they want. Looking it this way makes them stupid, not you. But this is not what you asked.

Starting from your example, you could simply say that "you're not in the mood for dancing". That way you actually transfer the responsibility to the one that made the invitation. Are they really going to pressure you into doing something you're not in the mood to?

If they insist (and they probably will), you can go this way: "it's not that I don't want to dance with you, I just don't wanna dance at all, sorry". That way you show that you actually could spend some time with that person (even if you wouldn't, it might be polite to say that).

But they're probably going to insist again. You can make clear that you're uncomfortable when they insist: "you're making me uncomfortable, guys, please, stop".

Stating that you're uncomfortable might change their mind, but if they're insisting so much, at that point there might not be another option than to play the asshole role. "I've already said it, guys, c'mon, I don't want to do it".

Anyway, you shouldn't do whatever other people want you to do unless you actually want (or need) to do it. If they think it is okay to pressure you into doing things they want even when you don't, they can and will abuse it.


If you go by the definition of "rude" your friend seems to have, there's no saying "no" without being rude because they seem to think it's the saying no that's rude.

I think people should not force you to whatever they want, if you want to then it is okay, but if you don't want to, people don't have to criticize you.

And I would agree with you (especially if this is about physical contact like dancing) - but it seems your friends will not. (Maybe it's time to make some new friends and see if they are more reasonable.)

What sometimes helps me in situations like that is giving a reason for your denial - even a really superficial one. See http://danariely.com/2015/02/28/ask-ariely-on-reasonable-requests-trash-talk-and-paper-piles/

Many years ago, Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer carried out one of my all-time favorite studies. She asked her research assistants to look for lines for photocopiers, approach someone waiting to make copies and say, “Excuse me, can I get in line in front of you?” Unsurprisingly, this request was usually refused. Prof. Langer then had her research assistants change their phrasing and instead ask, “Excuse me, can I get in line in front of you—I need to make a photocopy” With this new version, they were frequently allowed to cut in. Obviously, the second phrase held no new information—why would anyone join this line if not to make a photocopy? But the longer phrasing had the structure of a reason-based-request: Excuse me, may I do X, I need Y. Prof. Langer showed that because people often don’t pay attention to what we say, it is sometimes enough to say something that sounds reasonable—and people will often agree.

It usually goes down better if your reason is short and not about the other person, e.g. "Sorry, I'm really exhausted right now" and not "Sorry, I don't feel like dancing with her!"

Also, convince yourself that it's perfectly normal for yourself to decline the request and avoid sounding like you're asking for permission to say no. Just state the "no" as a fact that's not open for discussion.


You need to be more explicit the first time. Example:

Q: You wanna dance with me? A: No, thanks. I don't want to dance. I'm tired.

The "I'm tired" sets a clear boundary, and is an unmistakable sign of disinterest. If they cross it, they're being rude.

"I don't want to dance" makes it clear that you are rejecting the dancing, and not them.

  • This isn't a good response because you explain yourself by saying I'm tired and this gives the other party a new weak point.
    – brown-owl
    Mar 28, 2018 at 7:00
  • @brown-owl: It may be a "weak point" but if the other party tries to exploit it, they're being rude. Which was the whole point of the trip wire.
    – Tom Au
    Mar 29, 2018 at 5:39

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