How To Say No and Why Is It Important?

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06 October 2021

6 Mins

Do you find yourself saying YES when you really should be saying NO? Do you put your own wants and needs aside in order to do something for others? If this is the case, then you are not alone.

This happens to all of us to a greater or lesser extent. Putting the satisfaction of other people above yours is very good, even admirable if you do it deliberately and voluntarily for the right reasons. However, it is not that great when you unconsciously and gradually stop living your life to live the others’.

I think most people would agree that our lives are getting busier and as a whole, we are feeling more and more frazzled and less and less productive. How often do you wish you could get off the treadmill for a while and find time to simply breathe? It happens to all of us at some stage and I am no exception.

When you are incapable of saying no enough amount of time, you end up getting to a situation where you have too many things to do, but most of them don’t have real value for you and your life. In extreme cases, this can lead up to a feeling of emptiness and a level of stress that is as high as unnecessary.

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” ~Josh Billings

But Why Do We Do This? Why Do We Say “YES” To Everything?

Here is why:

We want to help:

We confuse supposedly good behaviors with other supposedly negative ones. It seems that refusing to do something is rude and selfish while accepting to do so is an act of kindness, generosity, and empathy.

Fear of losing opportunities:

We feel like, by saying no now, they won’t offer us other things that we do like in the future.

Fear of confrontation:

We want to avoid conflicts and keep a good environment. We don’t want a relationship to suffer as a result of a negative response.

Fear of confrontation:

We want to avoid conflicts and keep a good environment. We don’t want a relationship to suffer as a result of a negative response.

Sense of guilt:

We often don’t feel good after saying no. We are constantly blaming and punishing ourselves for that decision, even if it was perfectly reasonable.

Fear of Rejection:

We want to be liked and not to be left out.

There are a lot of reasons why we need to learn to say “NO”, here are the two most important ones according to me –

  • You need to leave time for “Yes”.

  • You don’t want to just be liked, you want to be respected.

You may also want to read: My Way to Confidence

How Can One Say “NO”?

Be gracious:

Rejecting a request is uncomfortable—no matter how small or large the ask. However, you can cushion the blow by starting your refusal with a polite “thank you”. Try something like, “I appreciate you thinking of me for this, but my plate’s a little too full right now,” or, “Thanks so much for inviting me, but I have other plans.” Starting with something that’s friendly and positive will make the exchange less awkward.

You can also be gracious in the form of offering an alternative solution. Perhaps that involves suggesting another colleague who could help or providing a time when you would be able to take that favor on. Doing so will emphasize that you’re willing to be helpful—even if you can’t personally say “yes” to that request.

Use firm language:

If giving a hard pass makes you uneasy, it can be tempting to skirt around the issue with vague statements like, “I’ll think about it,” or “Let me get back to you.” But, this approach won’t do anybody any favors.

Instead, give a firm answer. One study even suggests that you should use the word “don’t” instead of “can’t”. For example, try saying, “I don’t have the adequate time to take that on,” rather than, “I can’t take that on right now.” That’s an answer that you—and that other person—will take seriously.

Keep it professional:

Any time you’re communicating in the office, you want to do so in a way that’s professional and respectful.

That means no flying off the handle, losing your cool, bursting into tears, or—most importantly—lying. In the end, that will only come back to bite you. Saying “no” can be challenging. However, it’s an important skill. Remember this advice the next time you need to refuse, and you’ll turn down requests in a way that doesn’t damage your professional reputation (or end in a screaming match).

Resist apologizing:

Saying “no” can feel counterintuitive, but it’s important that you resist the urge to apologize. Don’t start your refusal with something like, “I’m sorry, but…” as that will leave an open door for you to be talked (or, worse, guilt-tripped) into completing that request.

Know yourself:

You must be clear about your commitments, know yourself, and act with integrity. Put your priorities, projects, and personal interests above anything else. If what they propose to you has nothing to do with them, just say no to it.

Don't make up excuses:

If you do, the situation will be repeated constantly. You don’t even have to give explanations. You are the owner of your time.

Before accepting something, think about the implications. How much time will you need? How will it affect your professional, personal, and family life? What will be the cost? What other projects are you going to have to sacrifice?

In short, learn to be assertive, to value your life, and always look for relationships with good fundamentals.

Consequences of Saying “YES” to Everything and Not Being Able to Say “NO”

When people take on too much, there are several consequences. Following are the consequences of saying “YES” to everything and not being able to say “NO” –

Physical health:

When you have a very full schedule, the last thing on your mind is finding time to exercise. Do you know how important it is, how even simple exercise like walking the dog can have a positive benefit for not only your physical but also your mental health, yet it’s the first thing to go when you are busy?


When you have taken on too much in your life, you find that your mind is constantly running over the things that you have to get done. It can be extremely difficult to switch off when you need to. Many times you would have found yourself thinking about work commitments when you should have been enjoying time with your children. You often try to convince yourself that it’s all happening inside your head but it’s not, the children notice when you are not giving them your full attention.

Mental health:

When your life is overscheduled you find yourself becoming short-tempered. You tend to snap at simple requests from family and feel frazzled and overwhelmed. Filling every available hour with tasks that need completing and never having any downtime is something that can only be done for a short period before it all gets too much and something snaps.


It can be easy to become the person at work who solves everyone’s problems for them. To begin with, it can feel nice to be needed and to be able to help others but after a while, it can be a real drain on all of our resources. There is nothing more frustrating than having spent half the day solving another person’s problems, watching them go home, and then having to turn around and start the work you neglected while you were helping them.

You can also check out the following sites for reading more about the benefits you get when you start sating “NO” – 5 Benefits of learning to say ‘no’ 5 Benefits Of Saying No At Work And In Your Personal Life

Learning To Say NO Will Eventually Make Your Life Easier

Often it is the inability to say no to requests by others that cause our insane workload. We find it really difficult to say no to our children, our partners, our parents, our co-workers. We seem to be hard-wired to try to look after everyone. Unfortunately the one person we are not able to look after when we do this is ourselves.

Learning how to say no is a great favor you can do to yourself. You’ll reduce your work overload and your level of stress, and you’ll have time to do what really matters to you. And the best way to learn how to say no is to practice so, go ahead, don’t be shy!

Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi

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