Saying no

Consider the myths about saying “No” ……

  • it is callous, selfish, uncaring and mean
  • it is rude and aggressive, abrupt or blunt
  • others will always take offence/feel hurt and rejected

These are myths and if you believe them, you will have difficulty saying “No” and refusing requests in a clear, direct way.


  • ‘Listen’ to your internal reaction when someone asks something of you. If it is a definite YES or NO, then say so. If you are hesitating then – _
  • Get more information or time, do not be pushed into a decision. The hesitation may indicate you want to refuse.
  • Practice saying “No” without lots of apologies and excuses. A direct explanation is assertive. Accept responsibility for saying “No” and don’t blame others. “I can’t ..” becomes “I don’t want to ..” or “I’m not willing to ..”. “They wouldn’t like ..” becomes “I don’t like ..”.
  • Remember, when you say “No” you are refusing the request, not the person.
  • Give the person the opportunity to express their feelings and acknowledge those feelings “Yes, I understand that you feel upset/angry/disappointed ..”.
  • Express your own feelings truthfully “I feel uncomfortable about ..”.
  • Remember a refusal does not have to be heavy, aggressive or hurtful. If you do acknowledge their feelings, they should not feel their needs have been ignored.
  • Keep your body language assertive, remember eye contact and para language. Do not smile inappropriately.
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