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Nah: The do's and don'ts of saying "no."

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Hey there, I see you. You said “yeah girl, I’ll be at your party, count me in!” when you had no intention of going, now you’re coming up with this elaborate lie to get out of it so you can rewatch HOMΣCOMING and go to bed early. And you, over there! You keep complaining about being used, when in reality you make yourself overly available and continuously say “yes” against your better judgement. Don’t think I can’t see you, wayyy in the back. You’re guilty of saying “yes” because you were worried that the other person would be upset...or not like you....or that you wouldn’t be considered the next time the opportunity arose. I see you too sweetie, you’re the one everyone counts on because you secretly like being needed, so you wouldn’t dare say no, even if it nearly bankrupts you.

We are faced with countless opportunities to say “yay” or “nay” everyday. Unfortunately, some of us say “yasss” when we should say “nah” and we end up with regret, lies, or an overall feeling of martyrdom. If you're not saying “no” to most things, I promise, you're not doing yourself any favors. In a world where everything is finite, you should be prioritizing your yes’s.


Here are 7 things you need to know about saying “no”:

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  1. You have the right to say no. You have the right to express yourself and look after your own needs. It’s not selfish and it doesn’t mean you’re rejecting the other person.

  2. “No.” is a full sentence. There is no need for a lengthy explanation.

  3. You will never please everyone. Don’t say yes just to please other people. Regardless of how nice you are, someone somewhere thinks you’re a jerk.

  4. Healthy boundaries are important both personally and professionally.

  5. Nothing is free. What will you lose by giving in? Time? Money? Comfort?

  6. You’re allowed to change your mind. Just because you said yes at some point doesn’t mean a “no” can’t crop up later.

  7. The more you practice saying “no” the less terrifying it will become. Start saying no to anything that doesn’t add value to your life.


Anybody who gets upset or expects you to say yes all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
— Stephanie Lahart

Here are 11 different ways to say “no”:

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  1. Keep it real. This goes for family, friends, and your boss. You don’t have to have an elaborately fabricated ruse – just say you don’t want to. If you don’t want to go to an event because you’ve had a rough week and you’d rather chill or do something else – then say so. Don’t “kill off” your auntie for the 4th time because you think it makes your excuse more palatable.

  2. Don’t go on and on. In some cases, it’s best not to elaborate. If you justify your ‘no’ too much, it can allow the asker to find a workaround to try and make you say yes. Remember that D.A.R.E. slogan they shoved down our throats as kids? Just say “no”. Plain and simple.

  3. The "broken record" technique is particularly useful when someone keeps on insisting. You can respond by repeating your point over and over, just like a broken record.

  4. Redirect. If you want to say “no” to something that you know someone else might say yes to, feel free to pass on that info. “I'm afraid I won't have time to [insert random commitment], but I know Jamilah is great at that - perhaps you could ask her?” is a good example.

  5. I wish I could. In some cases, you might have to be a little softer in your approach. Imagine the nicest parking inspector in the world. Even though you tell her that you’re only a few minutes late, what's she gonna say? Probably something along the lines of, “I wish I could, but I’ve already written the ticket.” Adopt a similar approach.

  6. I’m flattered, but no thank you. Sometimes you might need to acknowledge that it’s a big deal that a person asked you to do something. This could be useful if someone offers you a promotion that you don’t want.

  7. I know this isn’t the answer you were hoping for. Acknowledging another person’s feelings is important in tough situations. If someone is expecting you to do something but you aren’t going to do it, say no, followed by the above gem.

  8. Negotiate a compromise, but only when you want to. For example, if you really want to help but the timing doesn’t work, perhaps you could say “I can’t do that today, but how about next week?”

  9. Let me know if you want me to reshuffle priorities. If your boss hands you yet another project that you don’t have time for, and won’t take no for an answer, ask what you can let go of. “That sounds really interesting, and I’d be happy to do it – but that means I won’t be able to submit the report by Friday. So let me know what you want me to prioritize.”

  10. I’m good luv. This is good for cold callers – ‘Thanks but I’m good with my current mobile plan. Please remove me from your call list. Take care!”’ is good enough.

  11. Hell no. This needs to be used sparingly, and probably only with friends. So, if you’re the type of person who still sleeps with a Minnie Mouse night light, and a friend invites you to a screening of The Conjuring’s latest movie, saying “Oh helllllll no! I’ll never sleep again!” is a fair response.


Just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.
— Seth Godin

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Being afraid to say no makes it easy for others to take advantage of you and it’s a sure way to stop your own needs from being met. You might take on too much or do things you resent doing. You could become overwhelmed, burnt out, anxious, or bitter at the other person for a choice you made. Saying “no”, unapologetically, is important for our self-care and overall well-being. Anyone who reacts with anger and hostility when you do say “no” is showing a lack of respect for your boundaries. I want to leave you with a few yes’s…

  1. Yes, you might feel guilty when you start practicing this skill…keep practicing.

  2. Yes, you’re going to piss some people off…they’ll live.

  3. Yes, you should subscribe to Welstand Boutique’s newsletter ;)

By: Shannon Green

Founder & CEO, Welstand Boutique