Learn When and How to Say ‘No’

Learn When and How to Say ‘No’

Why do we still agree to do favors or commit to things that we don’t want to do?


As intelligent women with strong beliefs and convictions, we pride ourselves on being confident. Why, then, do we struggle to say “no”? The bottom line is this: We all want to be liked and accepted, and saying “no” can be embarrassing, guilt inducing, and even perilous to our career and personal life.

Here’s how you can say “no” nicely:

  •  “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to.”
  • “I’m afraid I’m busy that day” or “I’m afraid that I have other plans.”
  • “I’ll have to think about that; I’ll let you know.”
  • “I have a policy about not lending money.”

Draw the Line with Your Children
Your 5-year-old begs you to buy him a new toy. You really cannot afford splurging, what with all your bills outstanding. How do you say no without feeling like a bad parent?

Say “No”

Saying “no” to your child can be tricky. But giving in can create problems for the future — set the precedent that you can’t be easily swayed.

If your child is at an age where he can understand money, tell him that you cannot afford to buy him all he wants. This is also a good way to instill in him the value of money from an early age, teaching him the art of saving and the perils of buying indiscriminately. You could also suggest that he helps out around the house to earn some money and thereby contribute toward buying the toy he wants.

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Draw the Line with Your Friends
Your friend has asked you to babysit her three children while she goes shopping. Three hours later she calls you to say her shopping is taking longer than expected. Do you mind keeping an eye on her children for another hour or two? Meanwhile, your husband’s boss is coming for supper and you have a hairdresser’s appointment, too.

Say “No”

Women tend to agree too readily to everything they are asked to do — whether it is babysitting a friend’s children or agreeing to bake cakes for a school function. Ask your friend to please come home now as you have other things to do. Remember to keep your voice pleasant and light. Avert similar scenarios in the future by deciding exactly how long you are prepared to have her children and explain that while you want to help, you too have other commitments.

Draw the Line With Colleagues
Your boss has asked you to take on additional assignments at work — even ones that are clearly not your responsibility. This causes you to work late in the evenings, over weekends and to miss your deadlines — all of which could make you look bad.

Say “No”

It’s not easy to turn down a request from your boss. However, it is possible. Start with the facts and state in a non-accusatory tone that although you really want to help, it is just not possible as you are afraid that it might affect the quality of your work. If the task involves skills you believe you do not have, say so, and suggest collaborating with the person you feel is best for the job.

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