It’s okay to say no!

Posted by on Nov 4, 2011 in Personal Development | 12 comments

Growing up I was taught to be agreeable and that “no” is a bad word. The truth is, all I got out of being overly agreeable and avoiding saying “no” was unhappiness and stress. Since I did not want a life of unhappiness and stress, I learned to stand up for myself, set and follow through on appropriate boundaries, and say “no”.

Some of the disadvantages to saying “yes” too often include:

• Wasted time and energy on unimportant requests
• Valuing someone else’s time over your own
• Increased requests for your time and efforts
• Missed deadlines
• Decreased quality of work
• Taking responsibility for others
• Helping others avoid appropriate and fair consequences of their behavior
• Lost focus, confidence and creativity
• Setting aside your well-being
• Sacrificing your health and happiness
• Feeling overwhelmed, resentful, frustrated and worn-out

The disadvantages of being overly agreeable are not pretty, and they are certainly do not promote healthy living!

it's okay to say no

The advantages of saying “no” when appropriate are many! Here’s how you can improve your life by saying “no”:

• More time and energy pursuing your goals
• Better time management
• Spending time on what what’s important to you
• Respecting yourself
• Earning the respect of others
• Becoming more reliable and trustworthy
• Being realistic about what you can and can’t do
• Increased credibility
• Showing confidence in other people’s strengths, skills & talents
• Believing in someone else’s ability to handle difficult situations
• Giving others room to take chances and grow
• Giving yourself more opportunities to learn and grow
• Being better positioned to help others when truly necessary and advantageous to everyone
• Boosting creativity and innovation
• Taking care of yourself
• Feeling balanced, confident, focused and strong

The word “no” is not a bad word. Like most things, “no” is healthy when used appropriately and for the right reasons. Saying “no” can drastically improve your personal life and your professional standing.

If you’re stuck, here are some tips on how to say “no”.

I love your comments! Do you find it difficult to say “no”? What have you gained by saying “no” in your life?

Image courtesy of photosan0


  1. I definitely struggle with this, Chrysta! In fact, I’ve been client hunting these days and have had the most difficult time rejecting offers that are too low for me in terms of pay. I know what it’s like to work tons and not make enough for the month, so I want to now focus on fewer but top-quality clients. The transition is difficult because it requires me to say “no” — and I want to be honest and say “no” rather than beat around the bush or make up excuses.

    Thanks for this motivating post. The reasons you outlined are especially helpful!

    • Thanks for your comment, Sam!

      It sounds like you’re on the right track by taking fewer top-quality clients. You’re honoring your time, energy and your skills by charging a fair price for your skills and talents. Huzzah to you!

      The more I remind myself that saying no is okay, the more I am able to be honest with others instead of beating around the bush, being unclear, or making excuses. I feel great when I am able to simply say no without all the hemming and hawing, and I get to show my respect for others by being straightforward with them.

      Have a grateful day!


  2. Hi Chrysta,

    I don’t have any difficulty saying no. I don’t ever recall being a “yes” woman either.

    I do remember one incident at a company I use to work for. They wanted to send me and the other executive assistant to a time management class. I certainly didn’t need to waste my time going to this class but the truth was, she really needed it and they didn’t want her to be singled out so they made me go too. Her problems was she didn’t know how to say no and took on more than she could handle. I’ll never forget that as we talked about her problems on and off throughout that day. I just never understood why she wouldn’t just tell them no. She was only hurting her own reputation in the end.

    Saying no is important a lot of the time. That I do know for sure.


    • Thanks for sharing your story, Adrienne! Saying yes may seem like a good thing, but your story shows how it is far more likely to be negative than positive!

      Of course I don’t advocate always saying no or always saying yes- balance it what it’s all about! First we have to get past the social stigmas associated with denying requests, and it sounds like that hasn’t been a problem for you. It’s just one of the many reasons I admire you!

      Have a grateful day!


  3. Hi Chrysta,

    It is a topic very pertinent to people of my country “India” and it angers a lot of people who does business with Indians.
    We have a tendency to say Yes to much more things than people of any other country. This is because of the fact that saying No is considered impolite here.
    Now, that good feeling almost becomes troublesome in office environment when dealing with boss, customers. We face situations because we say yes to almost everything.
    I think it is important to learn or to teach ourselves no when we cannot/do not wish to take up a task. Otherwise we should be ready to face the music.
    I think saying no is healthy as you said but rarely it is promoted ( at least the place I worked at ) .
    Have a great day :)

    • Thanks for sharing your insight and experience, Ashvini!

      I was also raised to believe saying no is impolite, and agreeing too often got me into trouble at work. I realized I needed to start saying no for my own sanity! Saying no was difficult at first, and it became easier the more I practiced it.

      Have a grateful day!


  4. I’m still kind of struggling with saying no. But I’m getting better. I have discovered how important it is to say no, and how much more I get done if I say no. I need to become better at arguing (or just say no) why I need to say no. Usually, if I don’t find an argument right away, I end up saying yes :)

    Great post!

    • Thanks for your comment, Jens! I’m glad to hear saying no is getting a bit easier for you. As with any positive change, it’s challenging when it’s unfamiliar and new, and becomes more comfortable with time.

      When I find myself getting stuck in arguments, or someone tries to convince me I should say yes, I remind myself that “no is a complete sentence”. That simple mantra helps me keep my resolve, and do what I know is right for me. And I can’t be right with anyone else if I’m not right with myself.

      Good luck to you!


  5. Oh yes, I love saying no to other people’s requests. It is so empowering to me. Now, I don’t always say No of course but if a request is made to me that is out of alignment with who I am then I will say No. No problem saying No.

    • Thanks for your comment, Justin!

      I think saying “no” can be empowering to other people, too. By saying “no” to someone else, I may inspire them to say “no” when they need to.

      You’re absolutely right about when to say “no”- when the request is out of alignment with who I am then I know the right thing to do.

      Have a grateful day!


  6. Awesome Post, Chrysta!

    You really knocked this one out of the park. Like you, I was raised to believe that saying “no” was rude and obnoxious. I struggled with it for the longest time. This of course made me a human target to be easily ran over.

    After enough human foot tracks on my face and knives in my back, I quickly learned that this wasn’t something I wanted to get used too. So I changed the “yes, of course” song to one where I’d add a H-E-double hockey sicks, too. Needless to say, saying “no” is no longer a problem. One or two may get by me, only because I’m still a little to trusting and don’t want to be one of those that go around saying no just for the heck of it.

    It’s definitely something that takes some practice to mature and get right, but once you get it in your spirit; it’ll save you from a lifetime of misuse, mistreatment, and your feelings being trampled over.

    Great post, my friend. I really enjoyed the read. :)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Deeone!

      Learning to say “no” was a challenge for me, as well, but it’s well worth the effort. Like you, I didn’t accept the stress, anxiety and burden that came with saying “yes” to almost every request.

      I expected I might experience some negative consequences when I started to say “no”, but really I’ve mostly found that people respect me more! What a lovely surprise!

      Loved your post today! Have a grateful day!


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