How To Say No In Three Easy Steps!

Updated: May 4, 2021

Hands up who finds it hard to say No! It’s just human nature we’ve been conditioned to think it’s not ‘nice’ to say No.

How many times as a kid where you told to stop saying No? Or that No wasn’t an acceptable response to a request, and you were forced to do it anyway? You had no choice! Is it any wonder you have difficulty saying No now as an adult? Your younger years were spent being trained to say Yes!

As the owner and founder of People Pleasers Rehab, I help hundreds of people unlearn this conditioning. It’s hard, I know I’ve been there, I was stuck there for most of my adult life. I broke free from the inability to say no – but even to a season professional “No Sayer” like me I still get caught out and the No gets stuck in my throat and is miraculously transformed in to a Yes.

You see, humans are very social creatures (as a rule) so we’re driven to preserve our relationships, so the thought of letting someone down in any way sends us into an inner turmoil tail spin - even if it is the ight thing for you AND that you’re generally ok with saying No.

But never fear, I’m here to save the day – well at least give you a fighting chance. Here are my top 3 tactics to making it easier for you to stop saying an automatic Yes and start uttering a considered No.

Plan Out Your Time

When you know what tasks or fun things you want to do with your day or week it makes it easier to say No. You already have something planned with your precious time, you can counter a request with “I can’t help/see you” then because <insert your plans here>, maybe another time.

Having a plan is also great for slowing the conversation right down and getting back in control.

You’ve probably been thrown a curveball by this request and you’re a little off balance. So now you say, “I just need to check because I know I have some ‘thing’s planned this week, I’ll get back to you later”.

Now, you’re now back in the driving seat. You can take some time to get your mojo back and work out what you want to say. You can then send a polite text saying that you’re busy so will have to pass this time.

Don’t Offer An Explanation

Offering an excuse may seem like the polite way to decline a request but it sets you up for a whole world of awkwardness. The problem with offering an excuse is it gives people the opportunity to change their request so that your excuse doesn’t justify your No.

Just like this…

1 - You say No to an invitation to go out for lunch because you already have plans on the day, they requested. They reply with, “Let’s do another time, what day works best for you?”

Arrggggghhhh you don’t want to have lunch with them at all… what?

If you’d just said something like “I can’t at the moment, things are really busy, I’ll get back to you when things calm down” You are home and dry. No more awkward counteroffer.

2 - You tell someone you can’t go to a party because you’ve no one to watch the kids…they offer to let you bring your kids.

Busted!! You didn’t want to go at all, now what?

Here I’d have said something along the lines of “I’m not feeling in the party mood right now, thanks for offering”.

If you’re faced with that friend that keeps going on, trying to persuade you to do something you don’t want to, you must be strong, a nice firm polite, “Thank you for thinking of me but No/not this time.”

3 – You say you’re sorry but you’re unable to help someone with something because you’ve got work stuff on. They reply that they’d love to have your help once you’re finished what you’re doing.

Shitballs…you don’t want to do it at all, in fact you don’t really like this person, now what?

If you’re going to use an excuse, makes sure you close the loop so there's no room for manoeuvre like this: “I don’t have the time right now, there so much going on at work/home and I don’t know when it’ll calm down for me to have time to help”.

Making excuses also just then prolongs the agony; you end up having to say No 2 or 3 times instead of the 1 simple direct No. You’ve made yourself squirm for longer than you needed to.

By simply thanking people for their request and telling them that you can’t agree to it, you prevent them from arguing with you.

Offer An Alternative.

If the person asking you is someone who you genuine like and want to help but not in their timeframe you can lessen the impact of your No by offering an alternative. This way you both win. They get the help they desire but at a time that is preferable to you.

Let’s try it out:

1 – Remember the friend who needed help on a project? You can’t help them, but you know someone that may be interested in helping – and could be a much better fit than you are too!

2 - A friend invites you to a bar, but loud places and drinking isn’t your thing. Ask them if they want to grab coffee or go for a walk instead.

3 – The invite to lunch that we declined earlier, maybe we do want to go, but can’t for 2 weeks, set the date for 2 weeks’ time. You’re not saying No you’re saying Not right now.

The goal is to offer compromise so they don’t feel upset to you saying no and you don’t feel guilty either as that would just add unnecessary stress to your life – and we don’t want that!

If you're struggling with what to say or how to say no, download my FREE PDF - 30 Ways To Say No Without Being Rude, it's got some great ways to say No without it feeling yucky.

I hope this blog has been helpful for you, if you need any further People Pleasing help or support I'd love you to join my Facebook group - People Pleasers Rehab: Setting Boundaries and Saying No with Confidence there's lots of support from other People Pleasers as well as free trainings and masterclasses.

Look forward to seeing you again soon'

Kerry xx


For tips on how to Stop People Pleasing and Start Me Pleasing (without feeling guilty or selfish) I have a FREE masterclass you'll find helpful.

In this Free Masterclass you'll learn

  • The 3 BIGGEST People Pleasing mistakes, the ones that keep you stuck saying Yes to them and No to you

  • My simple 5-step Me Pleasing formula to help you go from People Pleasing to Me Pleasing - all without feeling guilty, selfish, or disappointing people

It's the exact same formula I used to end my own People Pleasing ways, I've worked out how to do it, I've made all the mistakes, so you don't have to!

Get started with this free training here or by clicking the image above for access

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