The Art of Saying No

For such a long time I was the YES girl, at work, at home….all the time. I took too much on, I over-committed and I paid for it on the other end with overwhelm and exhaustion.

Yes, I still tend to fall into this habit but I am WAY better at saying no than I used to be. I gave myself permission to say no, I have slowly learned that saying no is not a bad thing and to put myself first and foremost when making decisions and committing.

But in all seriousness, learning to say no is not that easy, especially when you’re used to being a YES person for so long and have the dreaded FOMO bug (fear of missing out). Heck, I still wonder to myself ‘what would have happened if I said yes? Did I just miss out on an opportunity’? But it’s not just the issue with FOMO, it’s the fear that you may sound rude or lazy, it’s because you like to help people and not let them down, you dislike conflict and like to be agreeable. These are some of the reasons I’ve been a YES person. Sound familiar?

Anyhow, I’m sure you can see where I’m coming from but I want to share some things you can do to feel more comfortable in saying no, thought processes that I’ve tried teaching myself to make me feel more confident.

  1. Don’t over apologise. This is something I have tended to do but there’s absolutely no need. Keep your response simple like ‘sorry but I simply cannot commit to that right now’ or ‘thanks for thinking of me but I simply can’t accept at this time.’ See, sounds better than just a plain no.
  2. Take your time. Quite often I would say YES straight away without really considering my options, then I’d find myself sitting on the couch that night regretting that I’d said yes. Let the person know you’ll get back to them with your answer and give yourself some time to figure out if you’re going to say yes or no.
  3. Don’t make it personal. So often I had in my mind that if I said no to someone it meant that I was rejecting them as a person. I’ve since realised that saying no to someone is in fact not rejecting them but simply refusing their offer.
  4. Being honest with yourself. In the end I realised the pressure I have been putting myself under by saying yes to almost everything, it did not make me happy and put me under a lot of unnecessary anxiety. I think the important thing to remember is that you have to do what makes you happy, not to make others happy.

When you can master the art of saying no more often considering the above points, you will find you will be happier and achieve more because you haven’t bogged yourself down and put yourself through unnecessary stress.. Of course, I’m not suggesting you say no to everything but use the above tips to consider an offer first.

Are you a yes person or have you mastered the art of saying no?

Originally published at on September 10, 2015.

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