Why, when, and how to say no.

Saying "no" is difficult for a lot of people, but a crucial thing to master. So let's talk about when to say no, how to say it - and why we should.

If you want to be in charge of your own life - your ability and willingness to say “no” is crucial.

In truth, there’s no way I could cover every single aspect of saying no in a simple article, but let’s explore some of the most important why’s, when’s, and how’s of it, so that you can do it more readily and easily.

Why Say No?

Not only will saying no help you stay in control of your own schedule, but it will, in the big picture, enable you to better be there for the people that matter most to you.

And yes, that’s true even when it’s those people that you’re saying no to.

If we don’t say no when we need to, we’ll eventually risk not having the energy, time, or motivation to follow through on the commitments we say yes to.

In addition to this, when you say no to the things that are right for you to say no to, you're acknowledging that your own needs and priorities are important. This communicates to your unconscious mind that you're valuing yourself highly – just as you should – which can do wonders for your self-esteem.

When to Say No.

As you might imagine, there are countless different times it might be appropriate – or important – for us to say no.

But let me mention 5 of the most typical, and important, ones:

1.     When it conflicts with your values.
If a request goes against your personal morals or values - it's a clear sign that you should decline (yes, I meant for that to rhyme;).

Upholding your personal morals is not just a great way to make sure you’re doing what you believe to be right, but will also have an immensely positive impact on your self-esteem.

2.     When it jeopardizes your well-being.
Your health and mental well-being should always come first. If saying yes would lead to too much exhaustion or stress, say no.

Remember, putting your needs behind others might make you very helpful for a while, but eventually it can create burn-out, resentment, and even health issues.

3.     When you feel like your yes is not truly appreciated.
If you ever feel like someone is taking your yes for granted, not appreciating the effort or time you dedicate to them, or generally treating you poorly – start saying no.

Letting others use us is, as you might imagine, terrible for our self-esteem and life as a whole.

That said, please also make sure to respectfully bring this issue up with those people, since some people don’t mean to take you for granted and simply haven’t realized that that’s how you feel.

However, if that conversation doesn’t lead to change, go back to saying no.

4.     When it conflicts with your goals.
Skipping the gym to go have ice cream is fine once in a while, but if you’re trying to get into better shape you should say no to such activities far more than you say yes.

Whatever your goals are, make sure they’re a high enough priority for you that you recognize that they in most cases are more important than other people’s whims, wants, or needs.

5.     When it isn't doable.

Whether it's because someone is asking you to do too much, to do things that you don't have the skills or expertise to do, or anything else that makes it likely that you won't be able to do what they ask to a satisfying degree - you should explain that to them and say no.

How to Say No Effectively.

Again, there’s more to say here than I could cover in an article (so check out my Assertiveness course on Udemy or on LinkedIn for more), but the most important thing is simple:

Be respectful - but firm and clear.

Don’t beat around the bush, and let them know in a sentence or two that you are declining their invitation or request.

But, unless they’re obviously trying to take advantage of you, it’s usually a good idea to do this nicely and politely.

An example of this could be to smile and simply say, “thanks for thinking of me for this, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline.

If appropriate, offer a brief explanation.

It’s important to know that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your no. It is your life, your autonomy, and you are allowed to say no without telling people why - if you don’t want to.

That said, it will often be easier to keep people from trying to convince you to change your mind if you provide them with a clear explanation as for why you’re declining.

It’s usually a good idea to keep this short, as well. Longer explanations can make it sound like you’re feeling unsure about your no, or give the other person more ideas for how to try to change your mind.

So again, try to use no more than a couple of sentences.

And if you’d like, suggest an alternative.

Sometimes we really do want to say yes, but the timing is just bad. At other times we might have an idea for who else could help, or how the person could solve the situation on their own in a way they might not have thought about.

When these are the case, feel free to suggest these alternatives. It will show that you do appreciate being asked, and that you want to help even though you can’t do exactly what they asked right now.

Simple enough, right?

Ok, that’s it for this article.

I hope these ideas will help you say no more often, more easily, and with more confidence!

Hi, I'm TJ Guttormsen.

Since 2009 I’ve coached clients ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaires, to people who simply want more out life.

I’ve done over 100 national media appearances, published books, and created online courses that have earned several “Highest Rated” titles from their 11 000+ members.

Today I coach clients from all over the world, and teach seminars for business and events from my home in Las Vegas.

Come join me in my Facebook group, follow my Instagram, or subscribe to my YouTube channel for fresh content on a regular basis.