The word ‘no’ packs a powerful punch. Even in its varients (no, thank you/ nope/ nah), it stills comes across slightly harsh. We’re conditioned to believe that saying no is rude or you’re going to miss out on something or even that you’re hurting the people around you. This is why we’re so uncomfortable with saying no to people – no matter who it is. 

The thing is, though, when you say no, you’re not saying “I don’t like you” or implying that you’re above someone or have better things to do. All you’re doing is asserting your right to say no and put yourself first. Saying no is a hidden power because it is both easily misunderstood and difficult to engage.

Learning to say no

People are inclined to want to please everyone so saying no becomes difficult – you don’t want to offend or upset anyone, especially the people closest to you. We have the tendency to put others’ feelings and objectives above our own. 

Our inability to say no stems from the fact that we want to reassure and make others feel comfortable. This is something you need to shake, immediately. Being unable to say no is not only unfair to ourselves, but it can be unfair to the other person as well.

Changing your mindset to say no instead of your usual need to appease the person or situation is tough. You now have to consciously think about your answer. It is not selfish to want to say no, you have a right to decide what works for you and what doesn’t and those close to you will understand that. 

When anyone approaches you, before you answer yes or no, take your time to assess the situation, process how it may impact you and your time and then answer with the answer you feel is the best based on your personal opinions and feelings instead of obligation. 

The art of saying no

Getting used to saying no can be tough so these little guidelines might help you get your point across without feeling like you’re hurting anyone.

  • Understand that the decision is separate from the relationship

You saying no doesn’t mean you don’t like the person or you aren’t being nice to them. Often you need to put the situation ahead of the relationship you have with that person to adequately assess whether you want to say yes or no.   

  • Saying no gracefully doesn’t mean using the word no

You can acknowledge the request and express that you aren’t interested without always saying no directly. Using polite ways of saying no might make you feel more comfortable with it. 

  • Focus on the benefits

When you say no more, you have more time for yourself to do the things that are important to you. You will have more time to focus on your goals and everything you want to achieve by the end of the year without any distractions. 

  • Make your peace with the fact that saying no often requires trading popularity for respect

There is often a cost to a relationship or friendship when you say no. After all, you were asked to do something because the other person wanted (even expected) you to say yes. When you say no you are communicating that your time is valuable, which over time, will gain you respect.

  • Remember that a clear no can be more graceful than a vague or noncommittal “I’ll try”

When was the last time your “I’ll do my best” or “I think I can fit this in” worked out well for you or the other person?  A clear no is more respectful and helpful than stringing someone along or trying to commit and not delivering.

Learn how to tolerate the reactions of others

When you choose to start saying no, people may get upset with you at first. Setting boundaries for yourself is difficult and will feel uncomfortable at first, especially when you’re used to trying to please everyone.

Setting boundaries with people can actually help you improve your relationships in the long run. If you don’t respect your personal boundaries (perhaps in fear of someone else’s reaction), this is likely to lead to bitterness and resentment. The people you want to surround yourself with are those who will respect your boundaries, even if initially they feel upset or disappointed. 

The way people react to your decisions is their own issue, you need to be strong and confident in how you choose to spend your time.

The power of saying no is infinite and surprising. You deserve to treat yourself better than you treat others. Practice saying no for the next week or so, only say yes to things you absolutely want to do. Let us know how it makes you feel or the impact it has on your daily life. Always remember that saying no is sometimes the most important type of self-care you need.

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