How to stop saying ‘YES’ when you mean ‘NO’                     

Ask yourself why is it that I find it difficult to say no?

Is it because you don’t want the person to stop liking you? Is it because you don’t want it to look like you don’t care about the person? Being aware of what makes it so hard for you to turn a person down can make it easier for you to be more rational about the situation. If you’re afraid to ever say no because you’re worried that the person will stop caring about you, then you are in a problematic relationship and need to learn some assertiveness skills.

Acknowledge that you can’t do everything.

Your problem with saying “yes” to everyone may have already left you trapped with almost no time to yourself. You may have said “yes” to helping your friend move house, “yes” to helping your boss manage a new project and “yes” to helping your husband clear out his garage. You only have so much time and energy and for your own well-being you deserve to put your own needs first some of the time.

Know that you can’t please everyone.

Acknowledge that it’s impossible to please every person in your life and that you have to draw the line somewhere. You may feel that you will disappoint a person if you say “no,” and will thus lose his respect, but you may find that the opposite is true. If someone thinks you’ll say “yes” to everything, then he will actually be more likely to take advantage of you and to ask you to do too many favours. You can please the people you really care about some of the time, but it’s not possible to please every person every time — and maintain your sanity.

Understand the different tactics people use to get you to say “yes.”

If you can recognize the different methods that people may use to manipulate you and get you to say “yes” when you want to say “no,” then it’ll be easier for you to say “no” because you’ll know that the person is just trying to control you in some way. Here are some tactics to look out for:

  • Bullying: The bully keeps insisting that you do the thing he wants you to do, and is even mean or aggressive in the process. You can turn the bully down by keeping your cool and not reacting to his aggressive tone.
  • Whining: The whiner can keep complaining about how hard something is until you break down and agree to help without even being asked. Instead, either change the subject, avoid contact with that person for a little while, or just say that you’re sorry that the person is having such a hard time without agreeing to help.
  • Guilt Tripping: Some people will try to make you feel guilty by telling you that you never help or that you never come through at difficult times.Calmly remind the person of the times that you have helped, and deny the request. This time will be different.
  • Complimenting: They may start by telling you how amazing you are at something, or how smart you are, and then will ask you for help with a certain task. Don’t fall prey to flattery and agree to do something just because you’re being praised.

Remind yourself that you’re not being selfish.

You are entitled to manage your time and efforts in a way that is best for you.Tell yourself that you’re not being selfish, and that if that person thinks you’re selfish for not doing something unreasonable, then that’s not a person you should want to associate with.  Remind yourself of all of the times that you have said “yes” to people in the past to balance your thinking.

Saying ;No’ sometimes means…

Perhaps spending more time with your loved ones, enjoying hobbies and interests, relaxing and ensuring you maintain your own well-being.

So how can we say no effectively?

Talk in a calm, even voice.

If you sound emotional, confused, or upset, then the person will sense your weakness and may try to persevere in their request. If you sound calm, then the person will see that you’re being reasonable and that it’s okay for you to say “no” once in a while. If you don’t raise your voice or sound upset, the person will be much more likely to accept your explanation.

Have assertive body language.  Stand tall, shoulders back and breath calmly.  Make eye contact to show that person you mean what you say and do not fitgit with your hands or your watch as this may make you look nervous and they may feel you could be swayed..

Don’t apologize too much. If you do feel sorry that you can’t do the work, then you can say a simple, “I’m sorry,” but the more you keep repeating that you’re sorry, the less firm you will sound. The person will think that he can still convince you to do the task, and you’ll only make yourself look weak and will feel worse about not doing the task. If you apologize, it will look like you’re doing something wrong by not taking on the task.

Explain why you can’t do it. Giving a brief explanation can make the person understand why you can’t do the thing he wants you to do. You don’t have to be excessive about it, but giving just a sentence or two of explanation can help the person see that you have too much going on to complete the task. You don’t have to lie or make up excuses. Just be honest. Here are some explanations for why you can’t do something:

  • “I can’t finish this project tonight because I have to wrap up this report by 9pm”
  • “I can’t drive you to the dentist tomorrow because my husband and I will be celebrating our anniversary that day.”
  • “I can’t go to your party because I have to take a final exam the next morning.”

Give the person some alternatives. If you still feel guilty about saying no and truly do wish you could help the person, then you can try to give some other solutions for what can be done. If you really can help the person, just in another way, then don’t be afraid to mention it and see if that can work out for both of you. Here are some ways to suggest alternatives:

  • “I can try to finish the project tomorrow, but only if you can help call a few of my clients in the morning.”
  • “Do you want to borrow my car to take yourself to the dentist? I won’t need it tomorrow anyway.”
  • “I can’t go to your party, but I’d love to catch up this weekend, after my big exam. How about we go out for brunch? I’d love to hear all about it.”

Being Assertive means being respectful to others AND yourself.  An assertive person is warm and supportive but also considers their own needs.


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