Getting to No

9 ways to Not-Say-Yes

Don't let people bully you into saying "Yes"

Getting to No

Do you you find it hard to say No?

Do you end up overburdened with work, harassed and feeling resentful at others for asking, and at yourself for agreeing?

Usually ten minutes after agreeing you find yourself boiling with anger at your own stupidity, or depressed about letting yourself be used again.

There are no good ways of learning to say No: but there are good ways of learning to not say Yes.

1) Buy yourself time to think. Tell the person asking that you will need to consult your diary / your husband / your schedule - or something else first before you will be able to agree. Tell the person you agree that it is important, that it needs done, but you cannot commit to it right now without information from somewhere else. Or say, "I have a big meeting coming up. Ask me after that".

2) Put off answering until you can reply in a different format. Many people are embarrassed by saying No face to face. It is much easier to Not-to-say-Yes by email or a written note. Or get someone else to tell them. It is much easier to give an excuse when you don't have to talk to them directly.

3) Invent a boss. Tell the person that you need to get agreement from someone else. It can be a purely fictitious person. Tell the door-to-door salesman that you need to consult your aged mother who has all the money. Tell a difficult customer that you need to talk to your supervisor first, and they are not in. Email back to a request by including a false email from your 'boss' quoting that you are not allowed to do what they are asking.

4) Make up a rule. Tell them 'I never make a decision without sleeping on it first. Your idea sounds really good. I will get back to you tomorrow'. Or "I have a rule not to make two big commitments in the same week". It doesn't have to be logical, but no one is going to challenge how you live your life.

5) Put the onus back on them. Tell them that you will do it: but they have to do something first.

6) Give them alternatives. Say that the best time to do what they want is this afternoon at three, but you have something planned for then. Could they find someone to take over your three o'clock task first?

7) Promise to delegate it. Tell them that you will ask someone else to do it for them. But that you will get back to them later to say whether that other person agreed or not.

8) Suggest someone else. Deflect the person by saying that you think some other person would be a much better choice, and say why. And then make them ask the person first before coming back to you, and if they do, suggest someone different.

9) Find a way to get the asker to say "No". Then you just repeat their "No". Ask them 'Will your whole project fail if I don't do this?" Ask "Have you asked someone else to do this, and been refused?" Ask "Have your considered what I have already committed to?". Repeat their word "No". All you are doing repeating what they said. They can interpret it anyway they like, but you have said "No" quite distinctly.

There is no limit in how creative you can be in Learning-to-not-say-Yes.

Scroll to top

Enjoying this site? Please spread the word :)