how-to-say-no Tiggley

With the many channels of communication open to us, we are constantly faced with choices. You’ve just accepted a birthday invitation on Facebook. A friend has texted you, and needs your help moving. At work you have agreed to take part in a new project. And all these commitments start to pile up and it seems it never stops.

The problem is you seem to always get yourself in these situations. If only you had said no, maybe your days would be different.

Why Not Saying No is Hurting You

The inability to say no is one of the biggest downfalls of reaching your personal and professional goals. We give up so much when we say yes to things we want to say no to.  In some cases we give up our money. I’ve done this by accepting offers to go out and spend, when I should’ve stayed home and saved that cash.

Not knowing how to say no drains your energy. You will dreading your decision and regret it later. Most importantly, we give away our time, which most times is more valuable than our money.

Time spent effectively and supportively results in personal success and fulfillment. When we give our time away, we are also giving away the happiness of spending our time exactly as we want it.

The problem with not knowing how to say no is it makes you do things you don’t want to do. In fact, it can even ruin those things you like to do. For example:

  • “Yes, I’ll order dessert”
  • “Yes, I’ll watch one more episode”
  • “Yes, I’ll stay out longer”
  • “Yes, I’ll work out later”

There’s a definition for this problem. It’s being a people pleaser, and you are one when you constantly put other people’s desires above yours. So much so that we lose sight of our values. When our values are not being met, our life lacks fulfillment.

Good Reasons to Say No

One of the reasons we avoid saying no in the first place is fear of letting people down. We associate negativity with this word, causing us to avoid it. Some ways to make it easier to say no is to shine the light on the benefits of this two letter word.

When you say no:

  • You are making room to say yes to something you really want
  • You establish healthy boundaries
  • You free your mind of distractions and worries
  • You honor your truth
  • You protect yourself from the dangers of yes

Kenny Nguyen, entrepreneur and CEO of Big Fish Presentations, offers a powerful perspective on the word no. He gave a TED Talk called The Art of Saying No in which he discusses how saying no can protect you. Nguyen suggests that “to think of the word no as a protective shield, in compliments to the swords of yes.”

Think back to all of the times our parents or guardians told us no. Although back then it may have felt they were just being mean, really they were protecting us. Turns out, eating an entire bag of Halloween candy in one night wasn’t in my best interest. Now we are adults, and we take care ourselves.

How to Say No Effectively

The language we use with ourselves and others can largely impact results we receive. When dealing with saying no to others consider the following steps:

  1. If you are really not sure simply respond with something like, “I need some time to consider this and I will be happy to get back to you.”
  2. If you want to say no, say it briefly and do not offer excuses. That only leaves your answer open to debate a yes answer.
  3. Be courteous in your response. Thank the person for thinking of you, but politely decline and let them know you are simply unable to fulfill their request.
  4. Know your boundaries. When you are comfortable with your relationship and dynamic with the other person you will be more confident that a no will not be detrimental.
  5. Be confident and secure in your decision. Remember,you don’t owe anyone an explanation. Your priorities are worth saying no.

If you want to explore these suggestions further, read 7 Tips for Saying No Effectively , by Jonathan Albert. Or, if you prefer some light humor in your read try How To Say No (Without Being an A**hole). Both very effective.

Say No to Yourself

When saying no to yourself try the following technique: Replace “I can’t” statements with “I don’t” statements.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Motivation Science Center director of Columbia University explains how words frame our sense of empowerment. When we say, “can’t”, we are placing restriction on ourselves. “I Can’t” reminds us that we are being deprived.

When we say “I don’t” we take power over the situation. By using “I don’t” we are at the cause, rather than at the effect of a situation. This reinforces our goals and values and we become more likely to decline the things that do not serve us.

Example: “I don’t want dessert.” as opposed to “I can’t have dessert.”

Free Yourself to Find Yourself

Life’s a journey. We make a lot of stops along the way. It is okay to extend your hand to those in need. Do so mindfully. Let no into your life as a means of growth and success. The more you say no to what you don’t want, the closer you get to yes for what you do want.

Take the next Step

At Tiggley, we love meeting people who want to make positive changes to their lives. We have professional coaches available who can help you be empowered. Find out about our coaching programs and take your life to the next level!


  • […] are brave. When you take responsibility for your actions or provide for your family; you are brave. You are brave when you say no to things you don’t want to do. When you stand up for your co-worker or have the courage to love […]

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