Most people enjoy being liked. To be liked, we often have to agree with others. Even if what they say isn’t something we’re comfortable with. There might be a lot of times when agreeing to something you end up regretting later. When do we know when something is worth trying? More importantly, when do we know when to say “no”?


Saying no is an important aspect of self-care. A lot of people suffer from taking on too much at once. There is genuine harm in doing things you feel forced to do. Not only to the one who asked for your assistance but to our mental health as well. Not knowing when to say no leads to strained relationships. These strained relationships could lead to estrangement. All because you couldn’t politely say no.

Let’s talk about why knowing when to say “No” is important, and how to apply it in practical life.


Why do we say “Yes”

To find out when to say no, we must first learn why we say yes. As mentioned above, humans are social creatures. On average, we want to be in sync with other people. Even when we lack the skills to communicate this desire, we desire it internally nonetheless. An internal struggle between our agency and desire to please others. This occurs every time we are faced with binary choices.


We always want to find a compromise. When we say yes to things we don’t like, it’s to settle a conflict. We fear the relationships we may break by saying “no”. This fear turns to anger as we feel coerced into something we never did. This leads to us hating the person who asked us. This leads to both people’s relationships straining.


As a wise old man once said; “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

This may lead us to make impulsive decisions. We get aggressive in our decisions. Due to a bad experience, we automatically start saying no to their requests. Even when it’s something you normally would have done. That aura of failure now surrounds every interaction you have.


In the end, we may end up ignoring it altogether. Our wishes and theirs are no longer on the table. Nobody wins.

Why You Should Say No

You have to feel comfortable saying no to things you do not want to do. If you aren’t equipped to help, you should communicate that. If you are too busy, tell them that you are. Never feel uncomfortable about how you spend your time. This doesn’t mean you should avoid responsibility altogether. You must figure out by yourself which tasks are worth your time.

If you don’t have an immediate answer, tell them politely. If they aren’t rushing, they should understand your hesitation. Give them a deadline by which point they’ll know your answer.  Don’t sound like you are putting it off. Be honest about your answer the next day. Accountability lets you both respect each other’s time and duties.

Knowing when to say no encourages authenticity. This authenticity means your kindness isn’t taken advantage of. People will start to know which favors to ask of you. Both you and your acquaintances should value your time. Think of how much time is wasted if you aren’t fit for the task. If you set aside something you had important, especially if it’s not a priority, it wastes your time.


How to Know When to Say No

Always inquire in-depth about the nature of the favor. Make sure all is clear about the task being asked of you. List down your priorities. Now, think about where that task would fall on this list. Make a mental note of this for future questions. If the favor directly interferes with any of these priorities, then you can say no more confidently. If it doesn’t work with your schedule, check if you can move things around. If you cannot, tell them politely but firmly that you cannot.

Whatever your answer, make sure it’s brief, honest, and firm. You don’t have to over-explain. That can come off as floundering and might even offend the asker. However, you can give a time when you are available to help again. Offer other ways you can help as well, if able. In this way, you respect the other person’s needs while not compromising your own. This allows for you to have a strong relationship even after a refusal.

Prepare a template of phrases you can practice for saying. “I want to be honest with you out of respect.” Or “I’m only available during certain times” are example phrases you can use. Practice saying this with conviction and respect. Be proactive about saying no. Being reactive is what leads to floundering reasoning.  Proactive means you are sure of yourself.


This guest blog was written by Regi Publico. If you want a hands-on learning experience to saying no, increasing your confidence, and applying it to your business, reach out to Yvonne Dam. Become the CEO of your life, today!



Yvonne Dam

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