Saying No – Be Strong and Learn from My Experience

We live in busy and challenging times, and sometimes we can’t get overwhelmed by all of our responsibilities.  It’s important to set boundaries in relationships and saying no. 

Saying no is crucial in relationships to maintain our well-being.  By setting personal boundaries, communicating with others meaningfully, and saying no when it’s appropriate, we set the example for our children and also preserve relationships and personal integrity.  

Have you ever wanted to say no, but couldn’t find the way? There are plenty of right reasons and right ways to say no. Let’s explore more.

What does “Saying No” mean?

To say no is to not agree to doing something or to not accept something. It means choosing something, or a path, we believe more strongly in, putting our needs (or the needs of those we’re caring for), above the requests and interests of others. It might also mean “not now”, where in some cases the interest is to say yes, though it might need to be at a later date or time.

Two people having a friendly conversation - Saying No - Gone Minimal
Two people having a friendly conversation

What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are expectations we set with ourselves and others, about things we are willing to do, not do, and generally the position we will take. These are the guidelines, limits, and expectations we standardize for ourselves to establish and maintain healthy relationships with family, friends, partners, and coworkers.

Boundaries are important for building trust and promoting emotional well-being. By having these set, and understood, it’s easier to live by them as we are clear on what we expect and others are aware of what they might expect from us.

Why Are Healthy Boundaries Important?

Boundaries assist us in having healthy relationships and communicate our needs with others more effectively.  Setting limits on others allows us to protect ourselves and prevent being taken advantage of or hurt.

What Is an Example of a Boundary?

A personal boundary you might set would be something like “I’m ok with showing affection in private but not in public” or “You can text me anytime except for between 8 am and 12 pm while I’m at work”.  This can help set limits on what people can do in a relationship or friendship to keep it healthy for all parties involved.

How Do You Set Boundaries Without Being Mean?

The most important thing here is communication.  Say what you mean and explain why the boundaries are necessary to you. Healthy boundaries can be communicated openly, firmly, and supportively. In healthy relationships, understanding and supporting boundaries can be a very helpful and respectful element.

What Do You Say to Set a Boundary?

You could start with saying “We need to talk about setting some limits on ____________” or even “I’m concerned about our relationship/friendship and would like to discuss some boundaries”.  There are many different ways to go about bringing up boundaries in conversation, but what’s most important is open communication.

The Advantages of “Saying No”

Often, saying no can be seen as negative. In so many cases, saying no can be a very positive thing, offering many advantages. Saying no can allow us to focus more time on certain things (since we planned to have less to do), thus making them better.

Saying no can give us needed time with supportive people, nurturing positive relationships. Saying no can also keep us on safe paths in live, avoiding events, situations, and people that might not add to our benefit. Saying no can be empowering and helpful in so many ways.

Why Is It Difficult to Say No?

If you’re a people pleaser like me, it’s hard to say no because you don’t want to disappoint others.  Saying no tells someone you don’t want to do something with or for them-and that can be hard on both sides.  So we say “yes” because it’s easier and usually makes someone else happy-but not always us.

Why Is Saying No Important?

It prevents people from taking advantage of us.  Plus it helps us set and protect our own boundaries.  There are times when it is of the utmost important to say no (to teach children a lesson, to save money, to prevent hurting someone, to protect ourselves are just a few examples), even though it hurts or disappoints.

The most important thing here is communication.  Say what you mean and explain why the boundaries are necessary to you.

Why Is Saying No Healthy?

Saying no prevents us from stretching ourselves too thin.  It allows us to spend more time doing what’s really important, rather than making someone else happy.  We need to take care of ourselves before we take care of others!

What Is the Power of No?

The power of no is protecting yourself and your sanity.  When you tell someone no, you maintain your workload, you don’t take on more than you can handle, you don’t have expectations of others to attend a social gathering you’d rather not go to.  It’s the power of preventing undue stress and preoccupation, which usually leads to much bigger problems.

How Can Saying No Help Reduce Stress?

When you tell your boss no, you prevent adding to your workload and workplace expectations.  When you tell your partner no, you maintain your boundaries.  When you tell your children no, you teach them a lesson about not always getting their way and usually save money (although this can temporarily increase stress-especially when you have toddlers!).  When you prevent workload addition, maintain your boundaries, and save money these usually help to reduce stress.

How to Say No

Saying no is a part of social communication. Thus, there are many ways it can be said, to different people, and in different ways, depending on the situation. For example, saying no to a friend on a casual topic might be very different than saying no to a romantic partner on a serious topic.

Saying no at work can be very different than saying no to a night out. And just as people are dynamic, the situations in which we might say no are as well; different people feel different things day-to-day, so it’s important to rely on ones values when making choices, and being confortable and confident in communicating those clearly. Let’s explore a few ways how to say no.

How Do You Learn to Say No?

It’s difficult-but it can be done with practice.  Listen to reason and your instinct-if they are telling you no, then you verbalize just that.  You’ve got to find a balance between saying yes and no, listening to your inner thoughts, and really trying to see what the outcome will be to see which is better for you and the other party involved.

Saying No Without Explanation

Sometimes it has to be done.  Communication is important, but sometimes people will not accept no for an answer, regardless of what the explanation is.  Sometimes you just have to say no and walk away.  It will most likely work out better in the long run-it just takes time to see it.

When I Say No I Feel Guilty

Of course you do!  You want to make others happy, and when you tell them no, they look at you with that shocked look on their face that says “I can’t believe you said no”!  An explanation for the no can help, as long as you stick to it and give a rational reason other than “I don’t want to”.

Of course this depends on why you’re saying no.  If it’s telling your teenager “no I’m not buying you a new phone”, you’re teaching them a valuable lesson about taking care of belongings, working for what they want, and managing money.

How Do You Say No Gracefully?

It takes eye contact and a sincere tone of voice.  Explain to them why you’re saying no.  Don’t sugar coat it-be honest and open about how it doesn’t meet your personal goals, doesn’t benefit the friendship, or doesn’t help them as much as they might think it will.

How Do You Say No Without Being Rude?

Say it gracefully-with eye contact and sincerity.  Say it because you mean it and you’d like to preserve that friendship/partnership/work relationship and be sure to tell them that as well.  You can say no without being rude as long as you maintain open communication.

How Can I Learn to Say No at Work?

This is a tough one.  You want to say yes because you’d like to further your career, make more friends, make more money, etc. etc. and if you say no they might not consider you again.  Think of it this way: you say yes to everything they ask, you get stressed, you try to multitask but one or more projects slip behind, then you’re scrambling to try and get everything done with what is most likely NOT your best effort. 

This doesn’t help you or your coworkers.  Consider what you’re being asked and think:

  • Will this help my career or make me more money?
  • Will this take time away from home/kids/fun activities?
  • Will I enjoy doing it?

If you don’t like the answers to more than two of those questions, your answer to your supervisor should be no.  It takes time and practice-but consider the things that really matter to you.

How Do You Say No When You Are Overwhelmed?

It’s usually easier to say no when you’re overwhelmed.  You already feel the time crunch and pressing responsibilities with what you’re already doing, so if anything-ask for help!  That can be tough too, but you can do it!  Never be afraid to ask for help.

Say “No” to These to Improve Your Life

ItemBenefitTime Savings
Easily Outsourced TasksHousecleaningFocus on family and hobbies7 hours/week
Walking the dogsMore time for childcare and self care3 hours/week
Actions that Don’t Match Your GoalsDoing other people’s workMore time to focus on your own work and goals8 hours/week
Making excuses and procrastinatingMore time to focus on the work at hand4 hours/week
Useless DistractionsPlaying games on your phone/consoleMore time for exercise8 hours/week
Social mediaMore time for hobbies12 hours/week
Unhealthy Habits and ActivitiesSmokingFocus on health and workd4 hours/week
Visiting fast food jointsMore time for cooking/baking6 hours/week
Things You Don’t ControlFocusing on neighbor’s barking dogs or revving enginesMore time for hobbies4 hours/week

Helpful Insights:

Situations That Make it Hard to Say No

Saying No to an Elderly Parent

This can be especially devastating.  As our parents age, they become less and less able to care for themselves and they start to ask us for help.  The more we help them, the more dependent they may become.  Then we find ourselves neglecting our own families, which adds stress and fear of what might happen if we tell our parents no.  If you find this happening, have a conversation with them about what their expectations are, if they’re willing to have someone else help, and putting up your own boundaries of what you’re willing to do or not.  Work with them to find people or services to help them out and come to an agreement together to continue to care for them and keep them safe while keeping your own sanity!

Saying No to Your Boss

It can be challenging because who doesn’t want to be considered for that promotion or raise?  We can’t overstretch ourselves because we’re only hindering our own performance and potentially bogging down our coworkers.  If you can feasibly do what they’re asking, then by all means say yes. 

But if it will not benefit you, your team, your career, or your home life then you’ve got to be brave and tell your boss no.  Balance it out with saying yes to other things that you are able to do, but if you say yes to everything they will keep coming to you without regard to your own needs!

What do you need to say "No" to? - Saying No - Gone Minimal
What do you need to say “No” to?

Saying No to a Job Offer

This can be a really challenging task, especially if you’ve been searching for a job because you’ve been out of work or you really need the cash.  There are times when we must listen to our instincts and feelings on this one-just because it pays money doesn’t mean it’s right for you.  If there’s ANYTHING about a job offer that makes you think “Wait a minute…” then you should probably say no.

Saying No to Your Child

Children can be easy and difficult.  It’s easy when they’re rational about it (usually older children and teenagers) and difficult when they’re not (toddlers are notorious for being irrational).  We must decide when to say no to our children to teach them things like financial responsibility, independence, and common sense.

Saying No in a Romantic Relationship

How Do You Say No in a Relationship?

Maintain open communication and discuss boundaries.  Saying no doesn’t have to be difficult-it can actually preserve and even improve your relationship. 

How Do You Friendzone Nicely?

Communication and honesty are key here.  Don’t feign any romantic interest for the attention-tell them how you feel and assure them you’d like to be friends.  The friendzone is better than the enemy zone.

How Do You Reject Someone Nicely?

Again-communication and honesty are necessary.  If you’re not interested, tell them.  You don’t always have to explain yourself, just be honest.

How Do You Politely Reject Someone Online Dating?

Honesty and genuineness are hard to come by in the online dating world, so be those things.  Tell them you’re not interested and thank them for their time and communication.

Other Resources:

Saying no is an important ability we all need for self-preservation.  When we say no to loved ones, children, friends, and managers we maintain boundaries and prevent added stress to our lives.  Maintain open communication, genuineness, and keep in mind what really matters-your sanity!

Related Topics:

Is Saying No Ever a Bad Thing?

It’s a bad thing when we say it for the wrong reasons.  When we say no to hurt someone or get “payback”, to avoid certain people, or because we are experiencing depression or anxiety it is usually a bad thing.  Consider why you’re thinking about saying no-is it noble or is it dishonorable?

How Do You Tell a Guy You Want to Wait Until Marriage?

Just like that-with open and honest communication.  Stick to your convictions and if the guy is worth it, he will honor that wish.  There are many other things you can do with someone to build a relationship.

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