Assertive people examine a request of them or an offer to them by assessing whether they believe it is reasonable or acceptable. They do not commit themselves to a “yes” or a “no” reply until they fully understand what is being asked of them and whether or not they want to or are able to do it. If the answer to a request is “no” they say so with firmness, clarity and simplicity often by just stating the word “no” by itself.
People who feel guilty when they wish to or have to say “no” often do so apologetically or with long-winded explanations or excuses that suggest they feel they are doing something unacceptable or wrong. This sometimes invites the person making the request to apply pressure in pursuit of the “yes” they are seeking until they succeed to getting it. When someone senses an ambivalent “no” they will often request, or even demand, an explanation. Perhaps the best way to respond under these uncomfortable circumstances is, “because that’s my answer” or, “because that’s what I think is best for me.” Saying “no” is best seen as an honorable response; something to which you are entitled even if it will not please someone else.