Why We Should Say “No”

say no


A good friend of mine recently shared a secret with me. When I asked her how she managed to stay so calm, cool and collected, she told me it was something she learned years ago that has helped her both professionally and personally.

She learned to say “NO”.

Personal Observations

After listening to her share how this has changed her life, I tried to do this myself. While I’m still learning and caving once in awhile, I can now clearly see the benefits of using this little two-lettered word when need be.

You can do it too. It’s an easy way to change your life without spending any of your money or time. Try to say no more often and enjoy these benefits:

1. You spend more time doing things you want to do.

This is obvious, but it’s also true. Don’t feel guilty for saying no to something if you just can’t bear the thought of it. Evaluate each situation separately.

For example, my friend explained that if a coworker she’s not close to invites her to a baby shower, she says no immediately without guilt because she is better off with doing things she really wants to do.

Yet, she was candid enough to add that when her boss asks her to do something she takes a minute to think about how it will help her career before writing it off.

There are always things in life that you will have to do, but there should be some incentive for doing it, even if the act itself isn’t exactly what you want to be doing in that moment. Don’t place yourself second by catering to the things that are not in line with your future goals and overall happiness.

2. You weed out people who aren’t important in your life.

By accepting invites and responsibilities only from people you truly care about, the less important ones tend to fade away.

Most people quickly realize that you don’t have time for them and stop asking. Don’t feel guilty; you simply can’t spend quality time with the people you really care about if you divide your time among everyone that asks.

Don’t be mean or rude; you don’t want to create enemies, you just want to devote more time to people and activities you truly care about.

3. You get more out of your professional life.

When you say no to jobs and projects that don’t fit in your professional goals, you are spending much more of your time on things that will get you where you want to be.

Choose colleagues and projects that offer you something, whether it is a fun environment or a topic that really interests you. You’ll be much happier for it, and your career will soar because of it.

4. You are excited about your work.

By only doing work that you love, you can be excited about going to work. Being happy in your job increases productivity, which translates to a higher level of satisfaction. It is also a pathway to climb up the salary-ladder.

Money shouldn’t be the only motivator of course, but unmotivated and unhappy employees don’t get raises and promotions.

5. People respect you more when you say no.

We all know someone who we call a “sucker”. You know who I’m talking about: The guy who does anything for anyone all the time. Everyone likes him because they can get what they want out of him, but no one has any respect for the guy or his time.

Don’t be that guy. Do what is important to you. Let someone else be a sucker.

6. You get more out of your time.

If you’re not at meetings you don’t want to attend or at parties you feel pressured into going to, you can spend more time on a hobby you lost track of, or catch up with old friends who really mean a lot to you.

7. You are less stressed.

You know how you feel before you have to go to an event you really don’t want to go to? The nervousness, the hurriedness, the overall feeling of stress? That goes away when you start saying “no” to these kinds of invites.

When stress is reduced, your overall health will get better. What can possibly be better than that?

8. People you care about thank you.

You will be a better spouse, parent, friend and colleague. People will appreciate you much more once you can give them your undivided attention. Your home life will be better, and your career will soar now that you can focus on doing things you love instead of always focusing on obligations.

Conclusions

I was always a people-pleaser because agreeing was always easier than saying no and feeling guilty. The reality, however, is that it’s always easy to be a “yes” person until the time you can take it. That’s when all the stress misery starts and it only continues the more time you waste on things that just don’t matter.

Stop it right now by saying “NO” then next time someone asks you to do something that just doesn’t fit in with your life goals. It will get easier, and the guilt will gradually go away.

An honest “no” will take you further than a superficial “yes”.

Do you say “no” when you want to? How has it helped you?

Photo by Taylor Dawn Fortune


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Amy Hunter lives in Ohio and is a freelance writer by day and night. Contact her on Facebook.
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Discussion

  1. Mark T on the 25th April

    I thought this was going to coach the reader on ways to say no, not tout the benefits of it. The title should be changed to reflect the content.

    • Pooja Lohana on the 25th April

      Mark, your point is valid and now taken. The title now reflects just that.

      Thanks for reading!

      Editor

  2. Cosmo on the 25th April

    Hi,

    Very Nice article indeed! Many times even I’ve got myself into events and places I never wanted to go but agreed due to fear of saying NO! I ended up being engulfed and lost in the situation.
    But recently I’ve understood the necessity to say No. However it is quite tough to reject a proposal especially because people can be quite dissuading. It leads to greater confusion and stress if I end up changing my decision from their persuasion! And it does happen to me many times!!

    • Pooja Lohana on the 25th April

      Glad you like it, Cosmo.

      I agree–saying “no” on someone’s face is tough. But I urge you to place yourself first. Once you love and respect you, you will be able to do the same with others.

      What do you think? :)

      Editor

  3. Tyler on the 25th April

    So how do you say no? Benefits that you wrote about are great but the title is misleading if there are no strategies on how to say no.

    • Pooja Lohana on the 25th April

      Tyler,

      Thank you for pointing this mini-blooper out :) You are spot on. Title is now changed to reflect what the piece goes on to say.

      Editor

  4. Jatin on the 26th April

    Awesome article.

    After reading it, I was so moved on, that I even shared links with my friends.

    Thanks Amy.

  5. Joe Wilner on the 26th April

    Saying no can be tough to get used to when it feels like an opportunity is being passed by, but we can’t keep adding things to our list without removing something else. I know that opportunities will always arrive if I’m unable to take an immediate opportunity based on having my plate full at the time. I also thing there is a difference between doing kind favors for others and taking on a commitment that we can’t handle. I want to make sure people view me as a team player or considerate person who they would be happy to reciprocate the favor to. This has worked for me.

  6. Becky Blanton on the 1st May

    Nice post!! And for those who are looking for HOW to say no? Here’s a starter:

    How to say No Graciously:

    First, never apologize for saying “No.” Why should you be or feel sorry for not saying “Yes,” to something you don’t want to do? An apology weakens your no unless it truly IS something you want to do and yet need to do something else and truly are sorry you have to say “No.” Your “No,” should be friendly or neutral, but firm. So – no apologies! As a biblical proverb says, “Your yes should be yes, and your no should be no.” No aplogies! To say no, just say:

    “No.” or, “No thanks.” If that feels harsh or not enough:

    “No, this is not a good time for me.”

    “I’m already booked right now, so no.”

    “Not this time.”

    “No, I already have plans.”

    If it’s a client you’re saying no to, you might want to say,

    “I’m booked, but I know several other designers/writers who might be open and I’d be happy to help you find someone.”

    “I can’t do it this week, but next week is open.”

    “I appreciate and understand your financial constraints and your budget situation. I have financial boundaries myself, so I have to say ‘No,’ to lowering my bid on this job.”

    People who don’t respect boundaries will keep pushing and say, “Why not? What other plans? Why can’t you do it.”

    YOU DO NOT OWE THEM AN EXPLANATION!!!

    Just repeat yourself, “I said no, I have other plans.” If they keep insisting and pushing say, “‘Why,’ doesn’t matter, I said ‘No,’ and I mean it. Please don’t ask again.” or “‘No,’ is a complete sentence.” Or, my favorite, “What PART of ‘No,’ don’t you understand?”

    Part of the reason we struggle with saying “No,” to others is because we feel guilty for saying “Yes,” to ourselves. We want to please others because we don’t feel worthy enough, smart enough, good enough, kind enough, talented enough, friend enough to say No and risk losing someone’s approval. Saying “Yes” all the time is not how you get respect or approval. Other people’s feelings in hearing your ‘No,’ are NOT your problem. Adults are responsible for their own feelings. Don’t feel guilty or bad if someone is “crushed, hurt, angry, bitter, sad,” etc because you said “No.”

    Having good boundaries and demonstrating that you respect yourself and take care of yourself is how you get approval that matters (ie approval from other boundary setting, self loving, responsible people.) When you start saying “No” to people you’ve always said “Yes” to, you’ll get some flack. Ignore it. It’s part of the change. Eventually you’ll be surrounded by people who appreciate and respect your “no” (and expect YOU to appreciate theirs!). It’s not easy, but it’s certainly doable! If you’re still not sure, read Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, “Boundaries, When to Say Yes, When to Say No,” it’s awesome!

  7. Mlove on the 1st May

    Great article. Being able to say “no” has been one of the greatest breakthroughs of my life. As for how to say it, I’ve found a simple “That doesn’t work for me right now” does the job nicely without inviting further discussion.

  8. Amy Hunter on the 4th May

    Jatin- Thanks!

    Becky- You raise some excellent points, especially about the explanation thing. It’s like we’ve been hardwired into thinking that we have to have an excuse, but a simple “No thank you” should work. At the same time, we should also learn to accept when someone says it to us as well, instead of immediately seeking an explanation.

  9. Kent on the 6th May

    Lol. I always tell people “NO” !

    Time is the most precious and scarce thing we have. Money is infinite….time equals about 70yrs if we’re lucky. You know what I mean?

  10. Om ALzain on the 7th May

    Very nice articlembeing able 2 say No the last 2 years have a great impact on my life.I say NO to my boss,relatives and neigbours :)

  11. Chrysta Bairre on the 9th June

    Loved this article! I wrote a blog entry last year about saying no. I’ve heard it said that some of us are learning to say, “yes” and some of us are learning to say, “no”. I’m definitely in the “no” camp.

    http://livelovework.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/say-yes-to-success-by-saying-no/

  12. Cheryl Cavaliere on the 27th June

    I’ve been saying no for years now! I still end up saying yes more often than I should. I have a harder time saying no if it is someone I truly care about asking.

  13. arunshmily on the 9th July

    Hi Amy ..! yep.its interesting to say NO when i want to..im feeling this experience over last one year..NICE ARTICLE INDEED.! Thank you so much ..! It works !

  14. Mai on the 26th July

    I am sorry I tend to say yes a lot cause everyone in my life hate it when I say no. Once I had this HUGE fight with an employee at my university cause I found out she was working behind me & my friends’ back to destroy a fun project we were planing cause our competition was her friend’s sister. She understood something wrong I said on an e-mail & I considered her as a friend “obvious mistake =_=” so I apologized to her for the misunderstanding & she destroyed all our dreams & ALL our work “gone with the wind” & her friend’s sister got all the credits & letterly stole some of our work & belongings!! ALL cause I said no to her using us!!! & now a lot of my friends dont talk to me as before cause they think I was wrong cause that employee was their friend too & she showed them the e-mail I sent her WHICH I SAID NOTHING AT ALL ABOUT HER IN IT!!!

    I LOST MY WORK, MY FRIENDS & MY DREAMS ALL CAUSE I SAID NO!!!! TRUST ME BEING USED IS HEAVENLY COMPARED TO WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH!!!!

    SO STOP SAYING “SAY NO” WHEN YOU HAVE NO IDEA ON WHAT IT DOES TO SOMEONE’S LIFE!!!

    sorry & thank you

  15. Matt on the 5th August

    Being classed perhaps as a ‘Jack of all trades’, I am often asked to do things outside of what my role was when I first came for the interview. Keen to give a good impression at the start, I said yes to any requests I was capable of, and tried to showcase my skills, only for the reason of standing out and showing I go the extra mile. Now I am constantly asked for things that often take up so much of my time that i cannot complete what i need to do as part of my main role. I am learning to say no, but also importantly, delegating to other people. I am trying to make people self reliant (but not too much, else I’m out of a job!).

  16. Chris Diamond on the 5th August

    Great post! It can definitely MOTIVATE people to say no to requests and demands that are hurting them more than helping.

    People simply do not have enough reasons why they should say no, that’s why they do not do it!

    Here are different ways you can say no to others:
    http://doubletimetoday.com/distractions/how-to-say-no-to-requests-while-working/

    It is an article I’ve written recently, it shares different “lines” on how to say no.
    Thanks Amy!

  17. Patty on the 13th September

    The premise of the article is definitely a positive message. We should all practice not allowing work, people or other external factors to overwhelm us and reshape our lives. We must remind ourselves that ‘we’ are important and overextending ourselves is not beneficial to any aspect of our lives. That said, the advice in the article is not very practical for those trying to run a business and actually make a living, not unless you have other sources of income. Advice such as, don’t attend meetings that you don’t want to attend or take on work that you don’t LOVE. All very touchy feely, but not very informative.

  18. Me on the 9th January

    I’ve started saying no over the last 2 years and now I am alone. No one ever tells you people will become punishers if you don’t do what they want you to do. I ruined my life because I never said no.

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