7 Ways to Say “No”


When you say ‘Yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘No’ to yourself!

-Paulo Coelho



If you are someone that has trouble saying “no” then this article is for you. We all have troubles saying “no” to different people, whether it is your friends, boss, supervisor, or family. Sometimes circumstances may appear that they can’t be avoided and if we don’t say yes then who will. Then there’s those other times when you just needed to say “no” but you said, “yes”. This can be a very disempowering and exhausting act dependent on how big the battle is within yourself in the instance. In scenarios like this one mentioned, we can just do whatever the other person wants to avoid something we are not quite sure of, we avoid and fear it so much that you can decide in their favour within seconds. There are predominately 4 main reasons you avoid saying “no” for and they are as follows:


  1. You don’t want to disappoint the person or anyone else.

  2. You don’t want to be rude.

  3. It is just easier to say yes because your “no” might be questioned.

  4. Or you might even be afraid of lost opportunities.



So what could happen if you were to say “yes” instead of “no”? Maybe you might not have time to get a task done and you end up disappointing the person anyway because, it wasn’t done efficiently and with attention. In another scenario you could even be left feeling down about yourself because you have ended up doing something you really don’t want to be doing and the outcome could be terrible, in these scenarios people would generally sabotage the experience from the disappointment of saying “yes”. Ask yourself is this all worth the effort? Continually saying, “yes” to everyone can really take away a powerful component to life and that is your individuality, your right to choose to do and experience what you want to do. Life is way to short to live and experience through the eyes of other people. It is important to say “no” and here are 7 things you could implement that will help you build that aspect of yourself:



  • Be straight out! This may not be the first choice for many but it is the most effective. If you are assertive with your “no” then there shouldn’t be any room for someone to question it.



  • Respond with a question. “Doing this means I couldn’t do________this week. Is that good trade? If the expectations are unrealistic then put the options on the table. People will always respond differently when there are options, it gives them power to choose.



  • Sorry but I can’t! This is a “no” but can be perceived as very brutal sometimes. E.g. a friend asks you to catch up but you have deadlines on an assignment or project. Politely apologise and tell them you have to decline this time but maybe will make it next time, and then communicate your reasons.



  • A soft brush off! Ok, so there may be times you can’t always give a straight answer. What do you do then? Be honest, tell them you are held up with something and you will call them back to discuss. Do make sure you do call or message them back as you don’t want to be rude to the individual.



  • Buy time! Sometimes you might no be able to give an answer or even have a suitable argument in case it is a “no”. In this case, buy time. Tell them that for whatever reasons you can’t commit immediately and you will get back to them after giving it some thought.



  • Give an alternative! It really depends on the scenario and the person you are dealing with, providing an alternative solution can work wonders. No doubt there have been countless amounts of times you had a better idea but never spoke up.



  • Say the word “no”. There are two parts to this category:


  1. Practice saying “no”, you can just say it to yourself or say it in the mirror. There are many therapeutic strategies that are based around talking to a pillow. In this instance practice saying no to the pillow, this will feel so weird at first but when you get comfortable just saying the word to something it will become easier with people.


  1. Push yourself to say “no” to people. This is a challenge; and for 7 days aim to say no. Obviously you will have to say yes to the things you need to but this is more about making it a daily ritual and being conscious that every time someone asks you something you will have to look for real reasons to say yes or else it is a no. For the best results I challenge you to count and write down every time you say no and yes. Have fun with it. If you do this challenge I would love to hear your feedback and growth.


These are just a few effective ways to say “no” but the right strategy is one that works with you in situations and always comes from you not someone else. You presence and opportunity to grow into your individuality is a gift, look after it and empower it.


Peace and Love

Michael Sorgiovanni