The most effective way to tell somebody that you don’t need their help anymore is to be straightforward and clear – and also sensitive.
This is because the circumstances behind the necessity for the conversation are all unique and are all dependant on the nature of the help and the requirements of the person providing it.
What type of situation might cause this conversation to become necessary?
There are many different situations in which you need to inform someone that you no longer need their assistance can occur, and these range from personal and family relationships to formal work scenarios. Consider the following examples:
- Young adults wanting less help from mum and dad and more independence from the family.
- Older parents wanting less assistance from adult children.
- Homeowners no longer needing house and/or garden maintenance services.
- Health care clients wanting to change a service provider for personal reasons.
- Any person who has become accomplished in a skill and would like to continue practicing independently.
- Any person who has become uncomfortable with the status quo of a working partnership (or group) and would prefer to work elsewhere or alone.
- A patient who has recovered sufficiently enough to no longer need professional assistance.
- Any client who has successfully completed a course of counselling and no longer needs therapy.
- A customer who is unhappy with any kind of provided service or work and is looking for alternative providers.
- A person who has asked for help with any task and then needs to find a way to end the assistance.
Note also, that personal interpretations of help and whether that help is necessary differs from person to person. For example, it is common for older people to resist the assistance (and the advice) of adult children because they don’t agree that they need it.
Of course, not all of these situations are based on some kind of conflict. Indeed, many of them result as a natural consequence of learning or healing – a patient who has completed a course of rehabilitation, for example.
Why is it important to inform a person that we don’t need their help anymore?
Informing a person that their help is no longer necessary keeps situations smooth and expectations clear. Although it is often not a conversation we look forward to, the consequences of avoiding it will only magnify the reasons for needing it in the first place.
It is important to stand up for ourselves. Being helped when we don’t need it creates a false situation for both parties; the helper feels that they are doing something important (and appreciated), and the person being assisted pretends that this is true.
Unfortunately, this situation can quickly become exhausting, and if left, will become more and more difficult to end.
Therefore, informing someone that we are now fine on our own is the only way to end a troubling dependency – a dependency that could apply to either party.
If we allow ourselves to be assisted when we don’t need it, we remain dependent, and the skills we have become capable of exercising begin to atrophy or decline. This means that eventually, we really will need help.
Honesty about the situation is of vital importance to the other person. The knowledge that they are applying energy and skills to a situation that doesn’t require them can only become more devastating the longer it is kept from them.
When is it most necessary to let somebody know we don’t need their help anymore?
Situations become most serious when the helping becomes of paramount importance to the person giving it but has become a burden to the receiver.
This means that the helper may be unable to stop giving help because it is vital to their well-being (rather than to yours). This truth, however, will not be something they are prepared to consider.
Further complications occur when the person who is receiving the help convinces themselves that their request to end the assistance is erroneous. In other words, they still need it.
When a situation becomes this complex, extra support may be necessary.
What are the signs that a situation is getting out of hand?
Signals that indicate a situation is begun to unravel and that some form of intervention may be needed include:
- When you tell the person that you no longer need their help, and they become upset, scornful, or angry.
- When the other person argues with you and/or flatly contradicts you.
- When your level of anxiety about the situation becomes uncomfortable or intolerable.
- When you find yourself continually putting off the conversation to a later time.
- When the other person applies pressure to increase the level of help they are giving you.
- When you realize your part in a project is being minimalized more than you are prepared to accept.
What is the best way to approach this conversation?
The best way to carry out the decision that the help you are receiving is no longer necessary is to do it, decisively, and as soon as you become aware of it.
If the situation is personal and delicate (i.e. not professional and predictable), it is also best to speak privately, and if the situation has become untenable, to consider including an advocate.
What is the best way to tell somebody that you don’t need their help anymore?
Wording complicated conversations can be difficult, but several phrases are useful for getting straight to the point while also keeping emotions to the side. Consider the following examples, all of which emphasize the success of the helper as well as the receiver.
“I have some really good news; I believe that thanks to you, I’ll be fine on my own now.”
“I want to let you know that your help has really paid off – I’m confident to be on my own now.”
“Thank you for all your help, it’s really made all the difference, and I’ll let you know if I ever need you again.”
“I’ve decided I don’t need you to help me anymore. I feel great, and I want you to know how much I’ve appreciated your help.”
“Thanks for your great service, it’s been appreciated for sure. We won’t be needing it anymore because things have changed here, but we’ll keep you on the books.”
“I’m ready to branch out on my own. Thank you for everything, and I’ll let you know if ever I need anything.”
“I’m ready to try this on my own. I can’t believe I’ve come this far; thank you so much.”
What kind of things are best avoided during this kind of conversation?
First of all, it’s best not to prolong it. The longer you leave telling the other person your news, the harder it will become.
Don’t make your explanation long and muddled. This may indicate a lack of confidence, which itself may signal a need for help to continue.
Avoid public places unless you feel that the conversation could become more difficult in private. If this is the case, take an advocate anyway.
Never feel that you have to handle difficult personal conversations, such as this one, on your own.
Avoid letting the other person change your mind because of their needs. This is a process that once begun, is very difficult to stop.
What are the alternatives to telling a person outright that you no longer need their help?
There are other ways to communicate that you no longer need someone’s help – and these include not telling the other person at all.
This option, however, can only lead to a difficult situation becoming worse, and the decision will have to be made later on anyway.
Another option is to take an advocate to the conversation. Skilled support can keep the conversation moving forward, smooth awkward moments, and prevent emotions from taking over.
A third possibility is to ask a third party to intervene for you. This option, suited to complex domestic situations, is taken when either party is not able to act in person (for a variety of reasons).
What will happen if I choose not to tell a person outright that I no longer need their help?
If you don’t communicate the true details of your part in a situation that involves other people, then the other people (person) will simply never know your true position.
This means that any undesirable outcomes of the situation, such as the other person continuing to assist you, are quite acceptable.
Your declaration of independence will not be made, and this indicates not only that you still need help but that you also still want it.
The only way to end a source of help is to remove it, and this can only be achieved by sitting down and explaining kindly but firmly, that you are fine on your own from now on.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.