The Art of Saying No

For most of us saying ‘no’ is one of the hardest things. Although it might only be a short and simple word, it can feel impossible to utter those two letters. So, if you are one of those people who struggle to say no, you are not alone. The chances are, all of us have found it difficult to say no at some point in our lives. Saying no seems to be thought of as such as harsh response. Whether you are saying no to visiting friends or saying no to a new role responsibility, it’s not easy. For some of us, even the thought of saying no can cause us to feel overwhelmed or anxious. The problem with never saying no is that you leave yourself without boundaries, and sometimes you might even be putting yourself in a situation that makes you feel stressed or vulnerable.

So what are some of the reasons why we find it hard to say no? Here are two of the most common:

Making People Happy

The most obvious reason for not saying no is that we really do want to make people happy. Because it makes us feel good about ourselves! The last thing we want is for people to think we are acting selfishly. The downside of all this is that if we concentrate too much on helping others and being a people-pleaser then we may end up ignoring our own needs, duties and responsibilities.

Fear of Offending People

Not only do we want to please people, we may also be afraid of offending someone by saying no to their request.  And then there is the added fear of people getting angry with us. We want to be liked and can therefore find it hard not to do what others want us to do. And then we end up paying a high price for it.

If you are someone who struggles to say no, don’t worry. We are sharing our top tips to give you the confidence to say no when you need to.

Leave Yourself Time to Think

We might often feel pressured to answer straight away, especially if our boss is standing in front of us asking us to do overtime. Remember, you are the one being asked, and you have the right to give yourself time to think. Being asked something on the spot doesn’t leave us much time to think about what we are saying yes or no to. There’s no harm in asking someone to give you time to think about your decision.

Make it Clear

Sometimes, even when we think we are saying no, we haven’t been very clear with our answer and haven’t actually used the word no. Phrases such as ‘maybe’ or ‘probably not’ are not clear answers. If you want to perfect the art of saying no, you have to clearly use the word no in your response. Beating around the bush and trying to sugarcoat something only creates the risk of miscommunication.

Say it Louder

Don’t be afraid to say it again. If someone didn’t listen the first time or tries to pressure you, say it again and say it clearly. You will often find that people will try to change your mind, especially if you are notoriously a people pleaser, but this is when it’s important to stand your ground and stick to your decision. There’s a reason why you said no in the first place.

Stop Being Afraid of What Other People Think

Denying a request is not the same as rejecting the person who is asking. Making that clear can help people to understand that you have the right to say to no in a polite and assertive way. Your feelings matter as much as anyone else’s. (If you want to know more about how to become assertive visit our website). If you’re still finding it hard to say no then a good strategy to try is replacing the word no with other words. For example, if someone wants you to go to the pub with them, you could say something like: ”You go ahead, guys. I have other plans for this evening”.


Remember Why You Are Saying No

Remembering why you are saying no can give you the confidence you need to say it. There’s nothing worse than regret, and wishing you had done something differently. If you wanted to say no at some point, think about why you wanted to say no and what happened as a result of saying yes. Now contrast that with the benefits you could have reaped from sticking with “No”. Sometimes saying no can be the start of a new journey. You can’t change the past but you can change the future. Planning to start saying no more often can improve so many areas of your life, including of course greater self-confidence and self-belief.