The Best Way To Say ‘No’ And Not Lose Yourself


Have you ever felt backed into a corner?images62RT9G57

You wanted to say “no” …needed to say “no”….knowing well that “no” would be the right thing to say, but somehow between your brain processing the request and your mouth opening, the word “yes” comes falling out?

It never ceases to amaze me how we make commitments all because we haven’t quite mastered use of one small word.

Notice I didn’t say simple.

Saying “no is never easy or simple.

The finality of “no” brings the burden of worry, guilt, and sometimes fear and shame. We don’t want to be misunderstood or perceived as rude, never want to miss out on a good opportunity, hurt anyone’s feelings or dishonor relationships.

But sometimes — often times actually – “no” is necessary. “No” is empowering, it can provide self-preservation, create boundaries, and “no” can open doors to future possibilities.

Recently I said “yes” to a clear “no” opportunity and while I’ve decided to grin and bear it this time, I wanted to be prepared the next go-round. To do so, I consulted the sage of sages: I went to Google.

I wanted to be prepared, have my script in pocket should the need arise again.

I read countless articles about how we should language our “no” because after all saying “no” and employing the art of tact are bedfellows, you shouldn’t have one without the other. After what seemed like forever, the articles were all pretty much the same. What I found were endless passive-aggressive ways to let the person down in order to keep the relationship in good standing. And you know what? I wasn’t satisfied.

Look, I’m Southern, we’ve mastered passive-aggressiveness with 3 simple words: bless their heart.

We don’t have to say what we think; we can smile and cuss you out at the same time. It’s a gift.

All the responses I saw to decline an “opportunity” felt like a maybe or a lame excuse, there was never something clear and direct.

I think I found the answer, you tell me:

When you’re asked to do something, assess whether you’re being asked from a place of love. You’ll know if the request is sincere…or selfish. Therefore, when you respond in-kind, do it from a place of love. Not spite, not hate, not fear of consequences, not from a place of lack or the need to fit in, but a sincere and honest response that will convey your truth. When you do that, there is no debate of about whether you did the right thing or not.

What do you think? How do you say ‘no’?

12 thoughts on “The Best Way To Say ‘No’ And Not Lose Yourself

  1. At this stage of the game, I try never to do anything I don’t want to. I know in my heart immediately if a request requires a “no.” I knew this in my youth but would intellectualize why I should say “yes.” Underlying all my “yeses” was to be nice. What I work on today is keeping my connection open with the Divine. I believe that is were the messages in my heart stem from. I feel more comfortable saying “no” to a person than God. P.S. I love your blog. You feel like a friend to me.

  2. Good points, I like what you wrote about considering where the requestor is coming from. Is it love or selfish?? Yes I like it!
    Saying no can be empowering. As we get older, or more secure in our self, it becomes easier. Saying “no” means risking someone won’t LIKE us! YIKES!
    Too many “Yes’s” though and we feel resentful and used.
    I like the idea of thinking it like Jesus would, in love.

  3. No seems like a dirty word and it’s difficult to say it. I try to offer alternatives. If a call comes, I just don’t answer. I know. A coward’s way out. I recently had a friend to say this very thing, “Now, are you going to do this book cover for me or do I have to hire somebody?” Now, I saw over time how she could try to be a little slick but that was very insulting. She gets the no without guilt.

  4. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

    Well, bless your heart! I’m Southern also but with practice you can say “no” when you need or want to without owing anyone any explanation. How do I know? I was/am a volunteer… If you don’t say “no” they will eat you alive. No guilt here! VOE (voice of experience).

  5. Dorthula

    I like the assess if it’s from a point of ‘love’ or ‘selfishness’. I’d also add ‘enabling’. So often in my own need to be needed, I enabled others by being too available… never saying NO! Lesson learned…. I’ve become comfortable with the ‘n’ and the ‘o’. Saying it, not only relieves me, but it actually empowers others, even when they don’t realize it. Peace & Blessings

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