Learning to Say NO


A few months ago, I published the article Why You Need To Start Saying Yes. In that article, I talked about how I’m a shy person and I often say no because I am afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

I’ve been learning to say yes more, and it’s been pretty awesome so far. I feel like I have opened up a lot and I have also learned a lot about myself. It’s been great trying new things lately.

Well, on the opposite side of that article, what do you do if you are constantly saying yes?

I recently came across someone who took a freelancing job they absolutely disliked.

Actually, they didn’t just dislike it – they hated it.

It didn’t start as hate though. In the beginning, their freelancing gig started just like any normal job. However, the work and the client were becoming more and more demanding and yet the pay wasn’t increasing.

They didn’t know what to do, and they e-mailed me recently about what their options may be. This isn’t one of their first freelancing gigs, but it is the very first one that they’ve actually ever wanted to quit.

So, what do you do when you want to start saying no in your life? Maybe you want to quit a job, free up some time in your schedule, stop getting stepped on, or get some sleep.

Find out why you have a problem saying no.

Do you know why you’re always telling people yes? There are multiple reasons for why you might be like this:

  • You try to please everyone.
  • You’re afraid if you say “no” that you’ll be hurting someone’s feelings.
  • You fear missing an opportunity.
  • You don’t want to be rude.

In order to determine what your next step is, you need to figure this out. If you’re running yourself ragged just to please others, then you need to re-evaluate your plan.

Evaluate your schedule.

There are plenty of times when saying yes can be very helpful. There is a reason I published the “Saying Yes” post. Saying yes has helped me greatly.

However, if you don’t have time, then it can be a really big negative in your life. You should evaluate your schedule and see whether or not you have time to say yes or no to others’ requests.

Perhaps you just need to rearrange your schedule? Of course, there are plenty of circumstances where you actually need to say no.

Flat out say no.

There are multiple reasons for why you might say no.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

One reason might be because you might don’t have enough time. If you don’t have enough time you should let the person know. They should respect the fact that you have a lot on your plate already. Everyone deserves sleep, right?

Or, you could tell them you don’t think you’re the best fit. Everyone’s not the best fit for everything, and I’ve personally turned down freelancing jobs that I knew for a fact I could not truly do. If you’re not the best fit, then it’s always best to be honest about this because you don’t want to waste your time or someone else’s.

Offer something else.

If you know you don’t have time but you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, then you may try offering something else in order to help them out still.

For example, the person in the freelancing story above could perhaps help their client out by quitting politely but also giving their client recommendations for others who may fit the position better.

Tell them you’ll think about it.

If you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, then you may want to try telling them you’ll think about it first. There is no need to say yes right away, and giving it a little thought is probably best anyways.

Of course, only do this if you are actually going to think about it. You don’t want to string the person along if you know for a fact that you will be saying no in the end anyways.

Do you have a problem saying “yes” or “no?” What are you doing to change that?


Image via Flickr by abhi_ryan


Learning to Say NO — 12 Comments

  1. I might say no more than yes, so maybe I have the opposite problem. (eek) My husband over commits so I find myself counter balancing as a result. I use the “I’m thinking about it” a lot too. Sometimes I say yes, and then go through a period where I wished I said no but then am usually happy in the end that I said yes.

  2. I always have to check my schedule (Kate) before saying yes or no to anything. There have been many time when I agree to do something and then Kate tells me, “but we have to go and do this.” Then I’m stuck either having to call that person back and changing plans or getting Kate upset. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like an upset fiancee. My life is not as wonderful when she’s upset. So now I just check with her first. lol

  3. I have a very difficult time saying no especially to more income; however, I recently had a freelancing opportunity that I agreed to but them realized it would be WAY to much work for the money. I struggled with saying no and literally lost sleep one night thinking about delivering the message; however, I did and the client was very nice about it. I am SO happy I didn’t continue with it.

  4. Having the ability to say no is definitely vital.. As Jason says hopefully it is a skill that we continue to hone and develop as well get older, I’m still learning how to 🙂

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