How To Say No - And Really Mean It


Being a 'yes' person has got to be a positive thing, right? Like being a 'can do' person or a 'glass is half-full' person. Having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and say 'yes' to a new challenge is indeed an admirable trait. But there is a big difference between saying 'yes' when you're apprehensive about throwing yourself into a new challenge and saying 'yes' when you know what you really mean is 'no'.

From committing to too many social engagements or agreeing to see that ‘friend’ who has the annoying habit of making you feel like crap, to taking on extra projects at work when you’re already flat-out – saying ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’ can be a major contributor to your stress levels.

At the time, saying ‘yes’ to a request often feels like the easy option – particularly if you’re being put on the spot. It’s only when the dreaded event comes around, or you’re sitting in the office at 8pm finishing the work you so cheerfully took on, you remember that the easy option is usually what your gut was telling you in the first place.

The more often you say ‘yes’ (when really you mean ‘no’) the more often you’ll find yourself in that same conflicting situation – because the more often you say ‘yes’ the more often people will expect you to say ‘yes’ and the more likely they are to expect it, the more they will ask of you.

“Yes-people become weighed down, feel torn, trapped, or taken advantage of, and as a result are unhappy or annoyed with themselves for being easy marks,” says Dr. Susan Newman, author of The Book Of No: 250 Ways To Say It And Mean It.

“Being a chronic yes-person wins only modest, temporary accolades and sometimes little praise. People who expect you to be there for them often forget to be appreciative and begin to take you for granted,” she adds.

As saying 'no' is easier said than done for some of us, follow these simple strategies to help you to be more assertive next time too much is being demanded of you.