How to say NO

If you struggle with saying NO and it’s causing you to overcommit, then read on for three tips on how to stop saying YES to everyone and everything.

Saying no is so difficult because us human beings all have a very deep fear of rejection, and we think that if we do say no that people will feel disappointed in us, angry, or will have their feelings hurt and reject us.

Couple that with how we were raised – often to be ‘nice’ or ‘kind’, or to literally put our needs after others, and you have a recipe for being a YES machine!

So let’s start looking at how to do this…

Prioritise and schedule

We all only have so many hours in the day, the week, and so much that needs to get done. In all of that, if we want to sustain it and live a happy balanced life we need to take time out to take care of ourselves, and enjoy it! Otherwise what’s the point of being here?!

So sit down and prioritise, and schedule into your calendar or diary, everything that YOU need and want to be doing. For example, if a good long dog walk first thing in the morning sets you up for the day – schedule that in. If going out with your friends once a week does it for you – schedule it in. If you want Saturday's to be a day completely for you and your loved one or family – schedule it in.

Then if someone asks you to do something that would take away from that time, you have a good solid reason to say no – it’s in your calendar – and that really helps with any potential guilt or feeling it’s a trivial reason to say no. You and your stuff is important.

You can also say 'Sorry but I’m busy all day Saturday, I won’t be able to do that'. You don’t need to give any more of an excuse than that, which takes me onto how you actually deliver your no – because it doesn’t have to feel mean!


Research shows that when we make a specific plan before something we want to do, we are far more likely to actually do it as we fully intended.

So rehearse!

There will be certain people in your life who are constantly asking you to do stuff or whom you find most difficult to say no to. So, start with them and rehearse a simple, direct but polite response. 

Something along the lines of...

“Thank you for asking but I’m unable to help you with that right now"  

"I really appreciate you asking but my week is completely full and I can’t take anything else on right now”

Because you can’t – remember that fully scheduled calendar of yours (with relax and recharge time)?

Offer a compromise – but only if you really want to so for example “I’m sorry I can’t spend time helping you to write that article - but here’s a blog I wrote on how to get started”

Focus on the positives

Once you’ve done all of that, rather than getting sucked down the whole ‘guilt’ tube of not being ‘nice’ or ‘kind’ - know that there is nothing nice or kind about doing something with resentment or anger.

Also, know that people will feel safer around you knowing that your no means no and when you say yes you really mean it and want to help them – this all creates trust.

You have made a conscious decision and taken action to create a better life for yourself and your loved ones. Even if it may have been one of them in the first place who asked, think of the long term - if you're exhausted you're no use to anyone.

Celebrate who you have been in that and what you have given yourself – time / energy / space – to do the things that are really important to you in your life.

If you actually want to change this then you have to take action. So get that calendar or diary of yours sorted and start practicing saying no today – right now.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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