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The Complete Guide On How To Say NO Most Effectively Without Caving And Saying YES

Among the many problems an average adult faces like acne, STDs, and responsibilities, one of the most difficult conundrums of adulthood is the inability to say ‘NO.’ The art of saying no gets tougher as you grow up and face life.  It isn’t a life threatening disease, and most people wade through life saying yes to everything that comes their way. While there is nothing wrong with that, it’s also important to stand up for yourself at times and say no. Loudly and clearly.

Many a time, the very people who say yes to everything and everyone, are the ones suffering in silence; in other words, they are people pleasers. They are people pleasers under heavy obligations to do what has been asked of them. And at some point, all of us have been such people pleasers either out of choice or by chance.

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Why is it so difficult?

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A breed like ours, unlike other living species, is unique. Because we have brains that help us think and we have a voice that helps us speak out thoughts. We also boast of some superior cognitive thinking. Yet, despite our uniqueness, we are no better than the other species whose brains haven’t been fully evolved and who can’t articulate their thoughts and don’t have a voice!

The pressures of being a human being are plentiful. Apart from the obligations that are thrust upon us, we grow up to constantly seek validation from people around us like our family, friends, and peers. In the bargain, we have unlearnt the art of saying no. We say yes to everything that comes our way, both good and bad, and live with our mistakes until resentment crawls in. Resentment is that very ingredient when used in excess can completely destroy a dish, leaving a bad aftertaste in your mouth.

Be it at work, home, or in a romantic relationship, it’s difficult for most of us to either say no or accept no as an answer. There is no rocket science as to why it is so; it’s simply because we are either too afraid or have very high expectations from each other.

What must you do? How to say NO?

Simply say NO when you are not comfortable!

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Well, if that doesn’t seem simple to you, then you have got to train yourself to do it. Have you noticed how sometimes you become unhappy after you have said yes to something you didn’t really want? Think about the exact feeling you experienced during that time. What was the feeling? Was it regret, resentment, and an unsettling feeling? Did you like that? If you didn’t, then why did you let it happen to you?

Yes, you heard that right. You brought it upon yourself. You were the one that agreed to do something you didn’t like when you had the opportunity to turn it down. You had a choice, but you chose to say what the other person wanted to hear, and not what you really wanted to say.

A lot of our life’s decisions are sometimes taken in this manner. Where we felt obligated because we thought no wouldn’t be an acceptable answer. Remember that time when you bought something expensive but didn’t like it the minute you paid for it? But you bought it because your friend asked you to, or said it was good for you. Or that other time when your partner asked you to accompany them to one of their office parties which you detest because of their pretentious colleagues. But you went along because you didn’t say no, and then had to pretend to like everyone there with a pasted smile on your face the entire night!

Here’s how to say no

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So now that we’ve covered why we do it and why it’s so difficult to say no, let’s take a look at a few pointers that will aid you in your endeavor to say no, instead of saying yes and regretting it later.

1. Justifying it with a reason

Contrary to what we’ve mentioned above, sometimes we feel a dire need to justify our actions to people around us. It’s innate to our behavior. Thus, if you really think that you need to back up your response with a reason, we suggest you do it – if not for anything than you peace of mind. This way, there is a small chance that you won’t feel guilty to say no. It’s a win-win.

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2. Put yourself before others – it’s okay to do so

Being selfish at times might be beneficial to a person who just can’t seem to say no to anything. Occasionally, when you look out for yourself, you will realize that it’s alright to feel a little happy when you say no, and it’s essential. Because one can’t always live to please the world; if one did, then they’d be living a miserable life. A life filled with unhappiness, bitterness, and suppressed revolt.

3. Evaluate your choices

Somewhere in between thinking for yourself and thinking of what could happen if you say no, you’ll be doing this. Evaluate the choices you have at your disposal, and then decide if that is the best course of action. Think of all the choices you made the last time around and whether or not they made you happy. If they didn’t, then you know what to do.

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4. Think of the repercussions

So, what are you going to lose when you upset someone by saying no to them? Will it be at the cost of your job, a promotion, or simply at the cost of relationship gone sour? What is it that you will lose and how important is that thing to you? Nothing is more important than your mental well-being. So unless your no is affecting someone’s life or death, you shouldn’t be bothered. Sometimes the repercussions aren’t as bad as we think they are. Also, if you are forever going to live in the fear of ‘what if,’ you’d rather kill yourself today!

5. Mentally prepare yourself for them

Once you have thought of the worst case scenarios, you may want to brace yourself. Prepare yourself to accept the circumstances that are yet to follow. Face your fears. This was bound to happen, so learn to deal with it with some grace. Accepting things as they are is the first step to loving yourself. Often, people are in denial because they can’t seem to accept reality. So, when you have mentally prepared yourself for the worst, you’ll be able to deal with anything else that comes your way. Because, duh, you’ve seen the worse so far, and you’re still standing!

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6. Say the right words

A friend of mine taught this to me. I’d say she observed me for a while until she came up with this theory. She felt that I gave away too much information when I said something to someone. And that information was the result of me trying to justify my actions. For example: If someone invited me over for lunch over a weekend, and I really couldn’t make it. My response to that person would be something like, “I’m sorry I can’t come because my aunt is visiting me on that very day.” My friend would tell me that I didn’t have to explain to anyone why I didn’t want to go someplace, that it was absolutely my choice to turn them down without a reason. It was alright to say, “I would rather spend the day at home,” than telling them why I can’t and giving them a truckload of information as to why I didn’t want to. So maybe all you need to say sometimes is, ‘I don’t’ instead of ‘I can’t’. Keep it short and simple, and use the right words.

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7. Sugarcoating may be necessary sometimes

Remember, that some people will swallow poison if mixed with their dessert. That’s how they are wired, so give them what they want. Tell them what they want to hear, instead of making them listen to what they need to hear. But for this, you may have to lie your way through, but don’t feel guilty about it. Because the truth can be devastating for these people. You may want to politely turn them down without hurting their ego or pride, by sugarcoating your words.

It’s important to set that boundary, to draw that line so you are allowed to keep your space safe. When you say no to someone, they might not necessarily understand why you said so, but they need to respect your decision. If you’re still wondering how to say no, you have to command that respect from people. Next time, don’t hesitate to say no, just say it but do so politely yet firmly, so that there is no chance for a misinterpretation.

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
The Complete Guide On How To Say NO
Are you the kind of person who says YES when you really want to say NO? Then you've come to the right place. Here's how to say NO most effectively.
Steffi D'Souza

Steffi D'Souza

I am a converted dog lover, lipstick addict, and travel enthusiast. I have a distinct love for old architecture and the ocean. I like reading books but love writing more. After experimenting with a gamut of roles in various leading corporations, I have finally discovered my passion. Thus, I have given up my corporate job to pursue a full time career in writing. I hope to write books and I'm already working on my first novel. I blog about all happy things on