Different Ways to Say No

We are stressed. If you’re like the average 30-something woman in America, you are:

  1. A mom
  2. A wife
  3. A friend
  4. A daughter
  5. A sister
  6. A career woman
  7. The afterschool transport vehicle and chauffer

The list goes on and on. Men don’t have it any easier either. We are all busy people and one of the reasons is because we find it hard to say “no”. Why is that?

Why we don’t say “No”

We often refuse to refuse because we are afraid of the consequences. “My friend will be angry with me.” “My kid will throw a tantrum.” “My husband and I will get in a fight.” “My boss will think that I am incompetent.”

Why should we say “No” more often?

First of all, I’m not sure that everyone really pays attention to how important our personal time can really be. If you spend 8 hours at work and 8 hours with your family, and get 8 hours of sleep, when do you have time for yourself? You have to make time so that you can improve upon yourself and relax.

We need time to learn more about things that we love, grow as individuals, relax, reflect, and unwind.

So how do you say “No” without being disrespectful or angering the person?

First of all, make sure to be polite. Sure, it’s easy to blow up at the person (“Seriously?! Do you KNOW how much I have going on right now?”) but that’s how you burn bridges. After all, that person probably didn’t know how busy you were in the first place.

Let that person in on what’s going on:

“Well, I’ve got the Henderson Project and the TPS report on my desk right now. I’ve got a week to complete these things. I will be happy to help you afterwards.”

Before you say “no” ask for hard deadlines. Perhaps this person is asking you to do something but it isn’t urgent.

Also, don’t be afraid of, “I’m sorry but I can’t.” That’s it. Easy, right? You don’t owe anyone an explanation. If you offer one, it is because you are trying to be courteous, thoughtful, or trying to justify your time. There are other ways to say “no” too:

  • I don’t have the time right now. Maybe later.
  • If only there were two of me.
  • I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s right for me.
  • I’m honored and grateful that you thought of me for this. Unfortunately, I have to decline.
  • Or simply, “No.”


J. Bernardo

"Joy Bernardo – writer, student for life, daughter, friend, artist, nerd, movie lover, avid coffee drinker, obsessive reader, and girl. Her list of accomplishments include receiving her college degree, following her passion, finding love, and finding her purpose in life. You can find out more about her at joybernardo.com".