Many people have a hard time saying “no.” Perhaps you do, too. Many people struggle with it because we don’t want to hurt others, or it can lead to conflict, or we fear it could lead to us losing a relationship with someone. If a person does not learn and become comfortable saying no without feeling guilty, responsible, or “bad” it can lead to a person over burdening oneself, sacrificing oneself, and teaches others that we have no boundaries. If you feel like a bad person for saying “no”–especially if it’s about not being in a relationship with someone who’s not treating you well), then you may have a basic misunderstanding about the difference between judgment and discernment. Judgment is other-centered which means there is someone wrong with someone else. However, discernment is “I” centered. It says “I no longer want this in my life.” It is centered in the self and our truth. Discernment has power to it.
The problems with saying yes when you really want to say no:
- Other peoples’ priorities will take precedence over ours. Sacrificing yourself for the sake of “being nice” will only lead to resentment and burnout.
- Mere acquaintances—people we barely know!—will crowd out time meant for family and close friends.
- We will not have the time for emotional self care. We deserve and need for rest and recovery. Especially introverts!
- We suffer physically because there is so much outward focus that we aren’t listening within to our self-care needs, like sleep, meditation, exercise, taking breaks, etc.
- We will end up frustrated, stressed, frustrated, and depressed.
- We won’t be able to say “yes” to the really important things.
- To please others (or be a people pleaser) you are not honoring your true self and being genuine
- Remember, when you say no, you DO NOT have to justify, explain, or defend it. If you fear you will be talked out of it or steamrolled, then don’t offer an explanation. However, if you wish to give that information, you can. Just know the more information you give, the more it opens up an opportunity to be challenged.
- We say yes, when we really want to say no.
- Other people’s problems become our priorities.
- We neglect important concerns related to home or work.
- We accept abuse in our relationships.
- We are overly apologetic and don’t speak what we are truly feeling and needing.
- We fear rejection and not being loved or liked
Males and females have difficulty saying no for different reasons:
Socially, women are taught to be “nice” and polite, as well as to be nurturers and care-takers. Many young women have been told that if they say no, the other person won’t like them or will be mad at them. This message only serves to increase the difficulty of saying no. Another message many females get that stops them from saying “no” and setting clear and respectful boundaries is that the other person will be upset and somehow not be able to cope with the disappointment, or that if she says no, she’ll be seen as a “b***h, incapable, or selfish.
Men who have a hard time saying no, often feel like they have to rescue, fix, be the hero (especially for women), be popular, or be the good guy who always comes through in a pinch, etc.
Here are some helpful phrases for saying “no”:
- No, thank you
- This is not a good time
- This is not the right fit
- Not right now
- Maybe later
- I am too busy
- I have too much going on today/this week
- Not today, maybe another time
- I want to, but I am unable to
- I am not able to commit to that right now
- I really appreciate you asking me, but I can’t do it
- I understand you really need help, but I am just not able to say yes to that. I am sorry.
- I am going to say no for now. I’ll let you know if something changes.
- Let me get back to you, but for now it is a no
- Probably not
- I am honored that you would ask me, but my answer is no
- Ummmm that is a no
- No, I can’t do that, but here is what I can do….
- I just don’t have that to give right now
- Nah, it’s not my thing
- Next time
- Thank you again for asking me out on a date/for inviting me. But I won’t be able to accept it this time. It turns out I do have a schedule conflict/something else planned.
- I am texting/calling you back. I am sorry to say that I won’t be able to do that. But thank you so much for thinking of me.