How confident are you in saying no?

Are you confident in saying no?

I am assertive in saying no when I can give a valid reason why. In a situation where I am invited to an occasion or asked for a favour and have nothing preventing me from doing so, I struggle. I tend to feel the need to justify myself and end up over explaining as a result. No doubt, this annoys the other person as much as it does me!

I am far more assertive at work than when at home. I put on my professional hat and focus on getting the job done. I am clear about what I need and what I am willing and able to give. 

Recently, I was asked for an ongoing favour from an old friend. I took a few days to ponder on it. Deep down I knew it was neither practical or sustainable – that if I had agreed; it would have created problems and could possibly impact on the relationship I had with the person. I said no, giving a clear reason. I felt uneasy and occasionally wondered how the person would now view me but I knew it was the right decision.

I have reflected on why I feel uncomfortable in saying no.  Reasons include; 

1. As a Christian I believe I am called to go over and above and not be led by my emotions and own selfish needs.

2. Wanting to please others and meet their need, often doing so to my own detriment. This derives from low self esteem which I am working on. It has been a long but worthwhile journey.

I like to walk with integrity and believe you should carry out what you have committed to unless of course an emergency occurs which prevents one from doing so. It is this same principle which holds me to my word. If I have said yes, then I will do my upmost to meet this. 

Having a good heart is of equal importance. It is pointless and unfruitful being of service to another if we do not have a genuine willingness and correct attitude. Feelings of resentment will follow.

It is therefore important that you do not commit yourself flippantly and go back on your word. It is always best to say no rather than “going with the moment”. Giving thought rather than rushing in helps!

Are you confident to say no? 

Does it depend on who is doing the asking? 


32 thoughts on “How confident are you in saying no?”

  1. Look just how many people are interacting with your post Phoenicia ! It’s a really interesting post ! And yes I used to have a lot of difficulty saying no but it is starting to get easier ! Info like th idea of using the phrase in sorry that is not going to work for me !


  2. I will admit I have problems saying NO. The reasoning is many you describe in your post.
    I have learned to only let my generosity go so far. Helping someone out is one thing, when it is repeated and you become an income or worker for the person is something different.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.


  3. There are several variables to juggle in saying “yes” or “no” to a request. Am I favorably disposed or at least neutral toward the asker? (Yes, this definitely makes a difference. Conversely, would you aid someone with whom you have an adversarial relationship?) Is help being requested immediately or at some point in the future, and how long would the matter take? Is money involved, and if so, how much? Is the request in alignment with my sense of ethics? Last but not least, do I perceive any sort of self-interest in saying “yes”? Adding it all up, I am usually able to come to a decision one way or the other fairly quickly.

    A related issue: Phoenicia, are you pestered by telemarketers and robocalls in the UK? If so, maybe you could write a follow-up post on how you deal with them.


    1. Great questiions to ask yourself Andy. They allow for deep reflection. I may well apply some of these the next time I am approached.

      In the UK I am constantly bombarded with calls regarding accidents I did not have, claiming back money from insurance, changing my broadband. I really could go on!


  4. Phoenicia — your post is very timely. My entire professional career, my hand always went up first when there was a call for volunteers. I determined when I moved to Florida, that I had to be more selective in what I agreed to do. I was recently asked to chair the program committee of a social group I joined. I was tempted but finally said “no.” What a relief!


  5. I’d say I’m pretty good at saying No and have been for a long time. I’ll verify that by asking my sister and brother! I used to try to please too many people and all I did was let them and myself down. When I realized that giving my word was very, very important to me, it became much easier to say yes or no to any given request. I’ll say it has always been easier to say no at work–but that could have been detrimental to me, too. I just didn’t care!
    Good, ponder-able, post!


    1. Rose Mary – integrity is important. People loosely promise to do the most basic of tasks and do not keep to them.

      How often have you heard;
      “I will call you later”
      “I will email you in an hour”


  6. Excellent post Phoenicia! I am good at saying no most times, but I admit that I often give myself a time buffer between the ask and my answer. Like you, it’s much easier for me to say no to work related things. I struggle more with requests from people I care a lot about and especially volunteer activities. For example, there’s a group that helps veterans suffering from PTSD get service dogs and that is so dear to my heart, so saying no to them is really hard. I’ve done it a time or two, but will go out of my way to help when I can.


  7. Phoenicia, I can understand everything you’ve written. Likely most women can. (I can’t speak for guys). Over the years I have gotten a lot better. In saying “no,” I’ve found the phrase that helps minimize the “need” for reasons and more reasons is simply, “I’m sorry, it’s not going to work for me.”

    Those who honor their word with me earn my respect. If they’ve given their word and realize they must back out for some reason or other, I am okay with too, as long as they give me ample warning. It also helps if they acknowledge any inconvenience caused and apologize. Like you, I value honesty and no grounds for resentment.

    I tend to struggle when it involves grown family members who need support with their kids. Sometimes it comes down to an assessment as to whose need is the greater in any particular situation: mine or theirs? Being a mother and a grandmother, I often find, involves fine balancing skills that test true lovingness, strength and patience.


    1. I like this response;
      “I’m sorry it is not going to work for me.”

      I think you should help where you can but as long as you do this with the right heart.


  8. As a teacher, you’re expected to say yes to everything. Even though I tend to be an accommodating person I learned to say no fairly quickly as a teacher. It was very trying to be expected to be at school all day and attend school functions only to then go home and have two more hours of grading and planning to do. Yes, I got very good at saying now because there’s always someone else who will say yes 😉


  9. I think it is important to learn to say no. Lots of clients deal with this issue and I have to remind them that they need to create boundaries for themselves. We all need time to rejuvenate. Thanks for sharing.


  10. Saying no to friends can be so difficult. It is easy to feel like the bad guy. I used to say yes to whatever I was asked when I was younger. I’m better at saying no know when I feel it is the right decision. I still feel bad though.


  11. Am very confident in saying no with the exception of governmental departments that can cause a lot of trouble for you if you do. With them you have to explain things from your point of view in a persuasive way and with patience achieve what amounts to a no.


  12. Hi Phoenicia. I enjoyed this post. I wrote a book called “Before You Say Yes” which helps volunteers know which situations to accept and agree to, and how to decide when it is best to just say NO. I use those same principles in most (if not all) aspects of my life. Life’s too short to spend time doing something you don’t really want to do.


  13. Phoenicia, I think you have nailed it right on. There are times,because of who is doing the asking, that it is difficult to say no but if you feel it’s the wrong thing to do, or requires more than you can give, it is absolutely the right thing to do. Not always easy but right.


  14. I am not confident saying no although I am getting more comfortable with it. And it does depend on who is doing the asking. It is easier to say no to some. If I say yes to something I want to make sure I have the time and talent to commit to it. I sometimes overestimate how much I can take on, but am learning to recognize that better. Saying no upfront is better than saying yes and not being able to finish what you agree to or feeling resentful and miserable.


  15. It is very hard to say no in certain situations. As you pointed out, wanting to be “a good Christian” and wanting to please others are two of the biggest reasons that it is hard to say no. Another situation that is hard for me is when a request is made by people I work for, and I don’t want to do what they ask, but I think I must in order to keep my work assignments going. I could decline, but would that make the bosses angry? A fourth situation is when I am invited somewhere, and I really don’t want to go, but it will hurt the inviter’s feelings if I don’t go. Then I REALLY feel selfish!



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