Learning When You Have to Say No

Learning When You Have to Say No

Many of us have been taught from a young age to take others’ needs into consideration before our own.

Could that be why saying no is difficult for you? If, like most people, you have trouble saying no to offers, proposals, or requests, you should learn to get better at it ASAP. Why? Because saying yes when a no is in order can drag you down, as well as everyone around you.


If the next time you are asked to give or do something you aren’t sure that you want to say yes, ask yourself if even one of the following statements is true. If so, say no.

1. You’re allowing someone to choose for you what you should be choosing for yourself.

It can be really, really hard to resist someone who really, really wants you to do something. This happened to me recently when I was invited to return to a conference I attended last year. It was a great conference, and I got a lot out of it, but this year, because of other obligations, And the thought of dragging myself onto yet another airplane was seriously unappealing. 

I like everyone at the company that was putting on a conference recently. I consider the representative who invited me a friend. She sent several invitations and made it clear that I would be a special guest. I was trying to figure out some way I could make it there, even though because of conflicting events and too much travel it fit neither my business or personal schedule.

In the end, I realized that just because someone I like truly wanted me to attend is not a good enough reason to stress my larger schedule or health. I sent my regrets. Perhaps next year.

2. You’re saying yes because you’re afraid saying no will harm the relationship.

If the other half of a relationship genuinely needs your help, then help them by all means. Most of the time, however, doing what they’re asking of you will merely make them more successful or otherwise facilitate their lives. If it inconveniences or negatively affects you, consider declining.

Be clear, don’t waffle, and perhaps explain your reasons for saying no. It shouldn’t damage the relationship. If it does, perhaps there was something wrong with it in the first place.

3. It’s part of an assumed quid pro quo.

You may feel pressured to say yes because of a belief that if you do, the other person will owe you a favor. Yet not everyone is playing with the same book of unwritten rules. A yes at a great inconvenience to yourself could be seen as a light-hearted sure that cost you neither bother nor a second thought. When you ask for a favor in return, they could say no if they see it as inconveniencing them. That will harm the relationship–because you’ll be royally ticked off.

Best not to go there. On the other hand, a voiced quid pro quo is A-OK. You’ll, say, cover for them this weekend if they agree in advance to cover for you next month. Clear, out in the open, fair – a good basis for making a mutually beneficial decision.


It can be very difficult to say no to something a person really wants – something that isn’t right for you or them. Still, you’ll be doing everyone a favor if you take that step.

For more information, please read:
Have Trouble Saying No? Here Are 4 Times When You Absolutely Must | Inc

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