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How to Say No


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Now, on to this week’s topic…

No.

Such a small but powerful word.

But it is not always easy to say.

There is however some things that I have learned to do to make the saying no habit stronger in my own life. So I can use more of my time, energy and life for the things that truly mean the most to me.

Kindly disarm and then state your need.

It becomes easier for people to accept your no if you kindly disarm them first. You could for example do that by saying that you are flattered and that you appreciate the kind offer.

And be honest about whatever you say.

Then you can, for instance, add that you do not have the time for accepting and doing what they want.

State how you feel about it.

Some pushy people might want to overcome your objections and sell you something or convince you to do something even if you first say no with a valid reason.

Then try this: state how you feel as a reason for saying no.

For example say that you do not feel that this offer is a good fit for your life right now. Or that you feel overwhelmed and superbusy and so you cannot do whatever they want. Or that you feel you truly have to keep all your focus on your main project right now.

The point of telling someone how you feel is not only to make them understand your side of the issue better but also that it is a lot harder to argue with how you feel rather than how you think. How you feel is your thing and no one can really come up with good counterarguments to that.

Improve your self-esteem.

If you don’t value yourself then you won’t value your time very much either.

This has been very true in my experience and the most powerful thing I have found to make it easier to say no was to improve my own self-esteem.

With better self-esteem the time and the energy I have has become a lot more valuable to me and I do not want to waste it.

And my sense of what I deserve in life has also gone up and am much less tolerant of or likely to give in to other people’s negative ways of persuasion. Like guilt-tripping, being really pushy or simply trying to take advantage of me.

Remember why you are saying no.

When you are about to say no then remember why you are doing it.

Focus on the positive things it will open up in your life such as more time for your family, for your writing or other hobby or simply for relaxing so your stress levels will go down.

This positive motivation will help you to go through with your decision even if it feels tough.

The world will go on.

If you have trouble saying no remember that just because you say no to something doesn’t mean that the world will stop.

They will manage and life will go on for all of you.

Celebrate and analyze your successes.

You may not be able to say no to everything you’d like to say no to in your week. Even if you use the advice in this article.

Don’t put too much focus on those few situations though. It will only bring your self-esteem and motivation to cultivate the no-habit down.

Instead, focus mostly on your successes. You may just have said no in one or a few small ways this week. That is still something new and great in your life so feel good about it. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate in some small way what you have accomplished and how you have grown as a person.

And think a bit about what went well in those interactions and what you can learn from them for the future.

Image by Daniel Zedda (license).



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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • CJ June 18, 2013, 4:22 pm

    The self-esteem point is very critical. Sometimes it is almost literally impossible for someone to say no because the fear of the person reacting negatively, or disliking them, is too much to bear. This level of dependency on others for validation is very revealing.

  • Natalie June 18, 2013, 8:08 pm

    Good suggestions.
    In the ‘stating how you feel’ category, how about turning the guilt back on the person who is pushing you? You could say “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to feel guilty over not giving your project the attention it deserves. Which I wouldn’t be able to do with all the other commitments I have. You wouldn’t want me to feel guilty, would you?” This, of course would be a last resort against a very pushy person.

    • Henrik Edberg June 19, 2013, 1:35 pm

      Thank you for the kind words! And thanks for sharing your idea, haven’t tried that one yet.

  • Kael June 18, 2013, 9:43 pm

    What a great topic for today!

    Really appreciate how you laid this post out! @GrowthGuided

  • Jody Michael June 18, 2013, 11:41 pm

    This is a great post! I find that many of my clients find saying no so hard. I wrote a similar post to yours to frame “no” in terms of “yes, and…” because, in Chicago, we love our improv culture. It makes an activity people see as a negative (saying no) a positive (yes, AND…) It tells the person you hear them while also giving you the ability to say where you stand.

    http://www.jodymichael.com/blog/three-minute-coach-lesson-improv-learning-no/

    We love your blog, keep it up!

    • Henrik Edberg June 19, 2013, 1:37 pm

      Thank you for the kind words and for sharing your tip and article, Jody!

  • Mbarek Issam June 19, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I had always problem with saying no to people. And that was out of fear that they wont like anymore. But when i decided deep inside that i will not live my life on sombody’s else standard. In that particular moment, saying no was not a hard thing to do anymore. Because i understood the fact that there is no such a thing such as someone is loved by everybody. So i took the risk.
    And quiet frankly i am proud of what i done ;)

    Though, thank for posting theses advises. They are really helpful and practical. They remind me of my own journey to saying no !!

  • Lisa June 20, 2013, 4:21 am

    I like this, so important to say no when you do to want to do something. If you keep saying yes when you don’t want to you may build up alot of resentment which can have alot of negative effects on your health.

  • 888deb June 22, 2013, 8:42 am

    love the article, wish I can Pin it….

    • DT June 24, 2013, 7:41 am

      You can. Just copy the url and add it with the “+” button on the top right of your pinterest account. Better yet, get the pinterest toolbar. You can get it through pinterest or as an “add on” to your browser.

      Re:How to Say No

      I’m not when when it happened but we started mistaking the word “no” with an insult. It’s not an insult.

  • Scott Torrance June 23, 2013, 10:32 pm

    Great post reminding us of something that can be all too easy to forget in the hectic, busy lifestyles.

    If we don’t learn to say no then we send out a message that we are on-demand for everyone and this can all too easily lead to feelings of being overwhelmed.

  • ap June 24, 2013, 3:18 am

    this is good advice. I’m now learning to say no

  • Yogesh June 24, 2013, 11:14 am

    Sometimes it really becomes difficult in saying no because it may directly hamper your relation
    Thank you Henrik Edberg

  • Thomas Nwafor June 25, 2013, 11:54 am

    Its strange but some people just cannot say no, but, I think that if you state how you feel about it, then it gives them more ammunition to try and break you down.

    I just say no and that’s the end of that.

    People soon get used to how strong your word is and don’t even question it. Why should you have to explain yourself to others? Its like your trying to convince them.

    Make your decision and stick to it like glue, don’t let no one budge you from it.

  • Jo Casey June 25, 2013, 11:16 pm

    Great post. I think for many people it’s a question of taking a beat before reacting to give yourself chance to make a choice of how you’d really like to respond.
    I’d also echo that self esteem is such a key part of being able to say ‘No’

  • John July 10, 2013, 9:24 pm

    Most people can not say no when they love, or want to please someone.. To say no is the most difficult thing. I believed self esteem must be develop to be able to say no. we need enough stregnht to say NO

  • lynn July 10, 2013, 9:31 pm

    thank you for the great post. To say no” is so important. People are swayed by feelings not by principle. We need to have enough courage
    to say no and not to be carried away.