How to Manage Needy Friends and Coworkers - Be Assertive, Say No, Protect Your Time
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Learn how to manage needy friends and coworkers in your life. In this lesson I teach you communication strategies to help you be assertive, say no, and protect your time. This will allow you to have healthier social interactions, improve relationships, and be a better friend.

If you’re wondering how to manage needy friends and colleagues you’ve come to the right video. I’m going to teach you how to lend a helping hand while still protecting your time and setting clear boundaries.


So you have a needy friend or colleague. They are making time demands and you don’t know what to do. The last thing you want is to hurt their feelings. Here are five strategies you can use to manage the needy friends and coworkers in your life.


(1) You’re Not their Guru

Make it clear that you are there to guide them, not to be making their own life decisions or doing their work. Explain to them what you have going on in your life that’s taking up time, making you stressed, or zapping your own energy. Showing this vulnerability will demonstrate to them that you don’t have it all figured out. If you’ve experienced a similar situation to them, open up and share it. Help them find the teachable moments in overcoming such obstacles.

(2) Learn How to Say No

Saying no is one of the most powerful communication tactics we have available to us. It will help us protect our time and prevent people taking advantage of our kindness. Turning someone down is tough, but if someone is overstepping their boundaries then it’s an appropriate response. If you’ve been down this road with them before, then remind them that the last time you said yes what came of it. It’s ok to say no. Just do it in a way that won’t make them feel sorry for ever asking anything of you. 

(3) Set Clear Boundaries

Offer to help within your own parameters and constraints . Give a specific time and date that you are available to help. Explain to them your own parameters. Mention any specific constraints, such as time constraints to them. Give them specific examples from your own life that need your immediate attention: job, kids, school, side hustles, pets, family commitments, you name it.

(4) Don’t Set the Precedent of Being Too Available

Don’t give the impression that you’ll be at their beck and call. It’s important to make that clear from the get go. If you’re someone who loves to brainstorm and can come up with ideas on the spot, this might be tricky for you. Sometimes if we’re enthusiastic about ideation and help the person brainstorm or problem solve, that could give out the wrong impression. Maybe instead of giving them ideas and spoon feeding problem solving, it’s better to nudge in the right direction. This will prevent a situation where they begin to lean too heavily on your generosity and not do any heavy lifting themselves. 

(5) Be Firm but Kind

Tone is important when conveying kindness and firmness. Be assertive to protect your time but don’t be rude or mean about it. After all, they’re coming to you for a reason. Just be sure to convey to them through your word choice, nonverbal communication, and tonality then you are there for them when they really need to talk and problem solve but you’re not their parent or babysitter to hand hold them at each and every crosswalk. 


These strategies will come in handy when you want to help a friend or coworker in need without them relying 100% on you when something goes awry. Make it clear that you will help, but on your own terms while still protecting your time and living your best life.


Alright Explearners. What other ways do you manage needy friends or colleagues? Share your ideas and insights with the Explearning community in the comments below. Share this lesson with people who you think would benefit from the strategies. I’ll see you in the next Explearning session. Bye for now!

About the Author and the Explearning Academy:

Mary Daphne is an expert in communication, executive interpersonal skills, and personal development. She is the founder of the Explearning Academy, a platform dedicated to helping individuals enhance their social fluency, boost their careers, and elevate their social game. Through immersive group coaching programs like the Executive Communication Lab and self-guided journeys, participants gain the social superpowers and career catapults they've been searching for. If you're ready to take your negotiation skills to the next level and connect with like-minded individuals, visit and explore the various plans available. Join the Explearning Academy community and unlock your full potential.

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