How can you respond confidently and learn to say no when someone makes a request of you and it really is not something you want to do? 

The question has just been posed.  Pause.  Were you going to say yes, even though there’s a voice deep down saying “no”?  What possible reasons could there be for saying no?

  • It’s beyond your means?
  • It’s beyond your comfort level?
  • You have no interest?

Identify all the reasons you have for saying “no.”  Identify which stem from a lack of confidence, which would be detrimental to you and which come from a sincere disinterest in fulfilling the request.

What would happen if you said yes?  Perhaps:

  • You would be considered ‘one of us’
  • It would make your friend happy
  • Your visibility with other people may be improved

Would you feel comfortable with yourself if you were to be say yes, even though you knew it would not be in your best interests?

Saying “no” is hard for so many of us.  A false sense of guilt often comes into play.  Whether this guilt has its foundation in religion, a proper upbringing, or a world view that simply says “it’s not nice to say no”, we know it is there lurking in the background and make decisions  based upon it, even though deep down, we know it is not right for us.

So you have made the decision, after scientifically weighing the results of your cost/benefit analysis, to honestly say “NO”.  Practice it in the mirror. Say it clearly and self-assuredly.….in the mirror.  Look yourself in the eye, and do it.  Just say “NO.”

Say it like you really mean it, and then say it again as if you speaking to whoever asked you the question.  When you pretend you’re speaking to the person who made the request, does it come out differently?  Practice and experiment with different ways to say “NO” until you find one you’re comfortable with.

Then go, and say “NO.”

Sometimes, if you have always given in to others, guess what happens?  After all that practice, getting the tone right and pretending you are talking to the person who asked you the question, you may just be surprised to find that they are not willing to accept it!   They may try to push you to say yes, rephrase the question, or make a new, not altogether different, request.   This is where your personal boundaries come in to play.  Know your boundary—what ARE you willing to do?  Revisit the questions you asked yourself before. If you are really serious about saying “NO”, then stick to your guns.  Tell the person making the request that you would appreciate it if they respected your wishes and boundaries, and ask them not to ask again.  If you are comfortable expressing your “reasons why” then do so speaking from your personal perspective.

If you are going to say NO, you must say it in a way that means NO!  In a firm, yet polite voice with a firm tone.  Also, if you want to say the reasons why, keep it short and sweet.  When saying NO remember the power of non-verbal communications.  Look the person in the eye when you say the NO.  Shake your head at the same time as saying NO.  Stand up tall.

Don’t forget that when anyone asks a question of you, it is perfectly OK to say, “Can I think about that and get back to you”.   No-one should be pressurised into giving an immediate answer.  It will give you some time to think it through and to gather your thoughts.  It will also give you some time to think about how you are going to say it, the words to use and your body language.

Practice makes perfect as they say!  Remember you must look after yourself first.  This is not selfish, it is a necessity. Practice in the mirror and soon you will:

  • feel much more confident and proud.
  • find that practice makes perfect—the more you confidently say “NO” the easier it becomes.
  • Others will respect your wishes and take you seriously the first time you say “NO.”
  • You won’t find yourself doing things you never wanted to do in the first place.
  •  have more time to focus on the things you do want to be involved in.
  • The list goes on from there…

I have learned how to look after myself first and how to say no without guilt.  I have learned that my boundaries are vital to my day to day living and that once people are aware of those boundaries they respect them and me.  That isn’t to say that I always say no, I know when to say yes and when to say no.  As Maia Berens says “life is a school” and I am loving all the learning and teaching.

Ching ching cheers

Noelene xoxo

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  • I learnt to say no a long time ago. When I realised a lit of people take advantage of it. So now I gave no problem saying no


  • Exactly! Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing this!


  • I went to a seminar ages ago that discussed this, among other things. We all had to practice saying \”No, but thank you for asking\”. It gets easier with practice! Quite a handy one when out shopping and you get ambushed by the pop-up charity/sign you up for…/buy this product stands.


  • I’m a yes person who is slowly learning that it’sok to say No and I feel better for it. My family is appreciating the new me. Going to put some of these tips into action.


  • It is hard saying no, thanks for this


  • It’s hard to do but you’ll feel better for it!


  • I feel confident in saying NO when I have to and when someone won’t take NO for a answer I spell it out to them N! O.! I use a low tone to reject a offer I can not accomplish and say sorry not this time as it does not sound harsh.


  • I’ve been practicing saying no to the mirror. Now I just need to put it into practice.


  • I’ve got it… Nooooooo! Boy that felt good!!


  • I just said ‘yes’ to a birthday invitation because the friend begged and begged… I should have read this sooner. Thanks for sharing :)


  • Come be hard to say no when put on the spot.


  • it took me many years to learn the art of saying no


  • sometimes you need to make sure that you have enough time for everything that you are agreeing to


  • Thanks for sharing this. I am a person who can never say no, I can’t help it. I am going to try a lot harder and see how I go.


  • I cannot say No to anyone I just cave in and say oh Ok I will do that for you I will now stop and think before I say yes thanks


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