Selfishness and refusal to do unpleasant work on the principle of "help, be a friend" are completely different things. Saying no is helpful and much easier than it sounds.
Several years ago I took part in a training for managers, the training taught how to act in difficult managerial situations. One of the topics of the training was teaching how to properly refuse people.
There was a woman in our group, Olga, "a slightly above-average manager." In the organization, she headed a large division dealing with security (in the broadest sense of the word). She told how she once agreed with her sister to spend a two-week vacation at the dacha together. My sister had a one-year-old child, and Olga promised her sister to help sit with him from time to time.
And so my sister arrives at the dacha and suddenly declares that she is leaving the child to Olga, and tomorrow she is leaving for a resort for two weeks. Olga is shocked - after all, they agreed to spend these two weeks at the dacha, and getting her one-year-old nephew in her arms was not part of her plans. But my sister ignored the shock and in the morning flew to Turkey, saying: “Come on, you were going to sit in the country anyway”. And Olga spent her vacation very cheerfully - she could not refuse her sister. When the coach asked why she did this, Olga said: “It is not customary in our family to refuse, especially since she is my sister. It was uncomfortable for me to say no."
Saying no to someone, be it a member of your project team or just a loved one, is very difficult.
Why don't we know how to refuse, even when we can do it? Because we are afraid. We are afraid of offending a person. We are afraid to destroy friendship and relationships. We are afraid of his negative reaction. We are afraid of being reputed to be an unpleasant person, we are afraid of condemnation from the outside, we are afraid of "public opinion". We are afraid of conflict.
Psychologists, as usual, look for the roots of this fear in childhood - the child learns to please his parents in order to deserve their love, but he is not given unconditional parental love. From parents, the desire to please extends to other people, and then our beloved “no one likes egoists”, “I” is the last letter of the alphabet”and books from the series“How do I like everyone in the world”are also superimposed.
The result is a person who says yes to everyone. Of course, there are people who successfully use this weakness for themselves. They save their resources at the expense of such reliable colleagues and acquaintances, achieving their goals until you reach yours.
Another reason people can't say no is the desire to be irreplaceable. Over and over again they take on other people's work in exchange for a reputation as a super specialist. Or, if we are talking about everyday life, in exchange for the praise of a husband or wife. This is a losing strategy.
How to say no?
First, we must internally accept our right to say no. We all have the unconditional right to set our priorities, to declare our needs, to be ourselves regardless of what others want and expect from us. We can say no without feeling guilty or selfish.
Secondly, “no” should be pronounced in a calm, firm, but benevolent tone. We do not deny a person forever and in everything. We just won't do what they want us to do now.
Thirdly, by refusing, one cannot make excuses. Those who do this look weak, but at the same time initiate discussion and allow the other side to seek and find arguments to convince them to change their mind. We don't want to argue - we just refuse.
Fourthly, the refusal should contain the pronoun "I": "I will not do this", "This does not suit me at all."
Fifth, to the objections of the partner (of course, they will follow), you should repeat the refusal in the form: "Yes, I understand your arguments, but I will not do that." At the same time, the explanation of your position should be very laconic or, even better, absent altogether. No long conversations - just a benevolent rejection.
The technique of "soft refusal" allows the use of constructions such as "I see your state, I sympathize, but …" or "I would like to help, but …". You can also suggest a way to solve the problem without your participation.
But I am an advocate of hard refusal.