Dealing With: “Can You Do Me a Favor?” Saying No to Effectively Manage Your Time

Have you ever been asked for a favor and before the person asking has even finished their sentence, you already knew that you WANTED to say no?

But you said yes instead because you felt guilty, didn’t you?

Requests for favors can cause us a lot of stress when we are deciding how to respond. We are navigating feelings of frustration, resentment and guilt while trying to maintain professionalism and manage the relationship.

To give you an example, I was recently discussing some projects that I had been working on in a casual conversation with some friends and acquaintances. As I discussed the Career Development projects that I had been working on, one of my acquaintances took the opportunity to tell me about a job that he was planning on applying for.

He then said, “Hey, I’m going to email you my resume so that you can look it over and edit it before I apply tomorrow, okay? What’s your email address?”

My first thought was, “Excuse me!?”

But of course, I had to quickly filter these negative thoughts and emotions, pause for a moment and silently break down this request:

  1. First, he was an acquaintance, not a close friend, so I was surprised that he had made such a bold request to begin with.
  2. Second, he completely ignored the fact that resume writing was part of my job and something that I got PAID to do. He was expecting this service for free.
  3. Third, he really didn’t ask if I could do him a favour, he TOLD me that he was going to send his resume to me for my review.
  4. And lastly, he gave me less than 24 hours to complete this favour, without considering what my schedule might be.

Despite all of this, the guilt took over and I blurted out “Sure, I’ll see what I can do,” and gave him my email address.

I instantly regretted it.

In order to satisfy his request, I had to interrupt my work schedule which put a lot of added pressure on the deadlines that I was facing. In the middle of my work day, I begrudgingly looked over his resume, and realized just how much work was involved.

My perfectionism kicked in, causing me to put in far more time that I bargained for, because I ended up rewriting his entire resume. This forced me to work late in order to catch up on my own tasks. The whole experience was absolutely miserable, however it could have been avoided if I had learned how to deal with the “Can you do me a favour” scenario.

The “Can You Do Me A Favour” Scenario

The “Can you do me a favour” scenario is a highly common situation that we experience within and outside of the workplace. Saying yes all of the time, especially when we don’t want to will cause undue amounts of stress and frustration. Most importantly, this added stress can affect our wellbeing.

I know what you’re thinking…

It’s hard to say no!

Although you might fear coming off as aggressive or rude, saying no is a healthy part of our professional lives. So here are some suggestions on dealing with “Can you do me a favour?”

Dealing with “Can You Do Me A Favour?”

Change Your View Of “No”

When people ask you for a favour, remember that they are ASKING a question to which they are giving you the option of saying yes or saying no. The choice is YOURS and both yes and no equally valid answers. Although, “No” has developed a negative connotation, creating a sense of guilt, we have to remember that we are not bad people for saying no. We are simply making a decision.

Get Clarity

If you immediately get fired by someone’s request for a favour, try not to respond right away, while you are experiencing a myriad of emotions. Take 24 hours to get clarity on how you truly feel about the request before providing an answer. You can simply say, “Let me get back to you tomorrow on this request.”

Set Boundaries

We have all heard about the importance of setting boundaries in our lives, however we often underestimate the consequences of NOT setting boundaries.

Time is your most valuable resource. Your time is limited and you CANNOT do everything. You have to be selective with the use of your time, so that you are tackling the tasks that will help you advance in your career and your life. 

By constantly saying yes to favours, you will be reducing the amount of time that you have to spend on things that are truly beneficial to you. Without boundaries, you will end up filling up your schedule and leaving no time for important things like self-care. Say no to the things that impede on the time that you have set aside for yourself. If people don’t respect these boundaries, then they don’t respect you.

Present Your Terms

If the favour is something that you don’t mind doing, but not exactly the way it has been presented to you, present your own terms.

When asked to review a resume in under 24 hours, knowing the capacity of my schedule, I should have responded with, “I can help you out with your resume, however I will need more time to do so, can you give me a few days?” Although this is not saying no, it does make the request more feasible.

Offer An Alternative

When we say no to people, the guilt can often come from the fact that you know the person genuinely needs help and will experience difficulty without your help. Although you are saying no, you can point them in the right direction by offering an alternative.

For Example:

Request:  “Can you review my resume?”

Response: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to, but here is a great website with really helpful tips on resume writing. I think that you’ll find it helpful in improving your resume.”

Provide Your Reasons if You Have Them

Some people simply can’t take no for an answer. They require a reason for why you are denying them. If you are comfortable and confident in your reason for saying no, share it. This will make the “no” easier for them to receive in addition to taking the guilt out of it.

For Example:

Request: “Can you review my resume?”

Response: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to, I have a few projects with strict deadlines and I won’t have the time to review your resume with all of the work that I have to do.”

Effective time and relationship management involves managing expectations and prioritizing your tasks. The next time someone asks you for a favour, do yourself one and say no when necessary!

Looking for more?

Check out our YouTube video on Burn Out

Diondra Filicetti

Purpose Mentor, Communications Specialist Owner at Driven By… Co.

I am a Purpose Mentor tirelessly deconstructing motivation to get to the core of what drives people in order to understand fulfillment. For me, continuous improvement is a way of life, whether in the workplace, in society or at home. Self-improvement begins with understanding your purpose, your desired future state and constantly learning from mistakes and making changes. It is my purpose to help others to grow and to develop on their individual paths to fulfillment.

Connect with me online:






Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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