6 Simple Strategies for Saying NO to Others

In this article, I talk about six simple strategies for saying no to others when demands are placed on us. That is, how can you say no when you are too nice and find it hard to reject the demands/ requests that are placed on you.

Many of my clients usually join my coaching program feeling very overwhelmed, tired and almost burnt out. Most of the time, after i assess their day to day activities, I find that they are busy doing things for other people without considering themselves. Usually these clients say that it’s so hard for them to say no to people when they ask for their help. Therefore, they end up saying yes to everyone’s request and making commitments which are very hard to follow through. 

Why is it hard to say no?

Saying no is a very hard thing for a lot of women. A lot of women are not able to say no because of various reasons. 

Some women admit that they are not able to say no because they have a fear of rejection. They are usually scared the other party will get upset and thus reject them in future. Therefore in order not to upset them, they stretch themselves thin so they can please their friends and loved ones. In addition to that, they cannot say no because they want to preserve their relationships with their friends, bosses, and family.

Some women are also not able to say no to requests from people because they are afraid they will be judged as wicked, selfish and proud. Others also lack the confidence to say no even after they have rehearsed it over and over again. These six simple strategies for saying NO to others that i am about to discuss have helped my clients immeasurably.

Consequences of not saying nO to others when necessary

Many women agree that consequences of not being able to say no to demands from others is the feeling of overwhelm and burnout. In addition to this is broken relationships stemming from their inability to follow through with commitments they made to certain friends and loved ones. 

Also, people who cannot say no sometimes come across as not trust worthy and incompetent because they take on responsibility but are not able to execute these responsibilities to the expectations of the people who asked for their help.

Furthermore, when people are not able to say no when they need to, they tend to feel unfulfilled and used at the end of the day. This is  because they neglect themselves in their bid to please others; thereby overstretching their capabilities and feeling tired and drained in the end.

There are times when saying no is necessary. If the request violates your personal principles you must say no. If you are being asked to do something that is way above your limits in terms of capacity, capabilities and  schedule, you must say no. That is why it is important to implement these six simple strategies for saying no into your day to day activities.

Below are six simple strategies for saying nO to others:

1. Set Reasonable Boundaries.

The first of the strategies for saying no to others is to set boundaries. I believe that unconsciously we all have our limits and how far we can go without feeling too over stretched and drained in the end. You must therefore set reasonable boundaries and stick to those boundaries. 

For example, when I was working in the corporate world, Sundays were days that I absolutely needed off. That was a boundary I set for myself. Therefore every job i found myself in, i made them know that i cannot work on Sundays and they respected those boundaries and made sure not to schedule me for Sundays.

In the same way, regarding certain important things like work schedule, volunteering, helping others on projects, sleep time,number of hours worked, to mention but a few, you need to set boundaries even before requests come in from people. 

When you set boundaries, you must think about the consequences of crossing the boundaries.

 For instance, being a mom, there is no way I can work more than a certain number of hours a day. Therefore, when I schedule clients, I always have it in mind the number of clients I can book in a day.

 This boundary allows me to say no to clients when they want to book for certain times. Even though it is hard sometimes, I know that the consequences of crossing my limit equals stress and overwhelm. So as soon as I think about the negative consequences of crossing my boundaries,  I get confident about saying no to requests from clients. 

In the same way, set boundaries for yourself about how much time and effort you have to offer to others; putting into consideration your own responsibilities and priorities first. Make sure you have taken care of your priorities before you accept responsibilities from others.

2. Value Yourself.

I always talk about self value because it is the core of a lot of the things I do as a coach. When you value yourself and have a balanced self esteem, it’s so easy for you to say no to people. This is because a balanced self esteem allows you to consider your physical, emotional and psychological well being when dealing with requests from people. 

When you value yourself, you don’t allow others to violate you or take advantage of you. A balanced self esteem makes you confident and not afraid to speak up when you  need to. 

This is the second one of the simple strategies for saying no to others when needed. Work on your self esteem and self value so that you don’t just keep saying yes to people and signing up for things that you know deeply will overstretch you and make you burnout.

3. Don't be Aggressive, Be Assertive

A Lot of people think saying no must be done aggressively so the other party can understand how serious they are. However, my experience has shown me that, when you avoid the aggressive road, and take the assertive way of saying no, people tend to understand you better and reason with you.

Don’t be rude, offensive, abusive or impatient. Instead, say no in a way that is clear and understandable while caring about the other person’s feelings.For example, instead of saying ‘… no, it’s not possible’ you can say ‘..I  do apologize, I would have been happy to help, but unfortunately i cannot help this time..’

Being assertive allows you to express yourself in a polite way, so that the other person understands your point of view and feels you understand them too.This simple strategy for saying no to others will go a long way to help you become more expressive of yourself and communicate what works for you in a simple and nice way. This is the third of the simple strategies for saying no to others when necessary.


4. Replace the usual quick 'Yes’ with ‘I will think about it’

The next one of the simple strategies for saying no to others when needed is to replace your usual quick yes with ‘…let me think about it’. A lot of women who struggle with saying no when needed usually give their answer too quickly. They sometimes feel pressured to respond immediately to the person making the request. However, you need to have it in mind that you are not obliged to give a response immediately if you are not sure.

I struggle a lot with this myself. And I realize that, when I rush to answer, I tend to regret it after I have had the chance to think things through. Usually i would have already made the commitment and cannot go back on my words. 

Therefore, replace your usual quick yes with ‘…i will think about it’. When you do this, it gives you the chance to actually think things through before you make any commitments to someone. This allows you to weigh the pros and cons of the situation to make the best decision.

5. Don't be Afraid of People's Reactions.

The fifth simple strategy for saying no to others when needed is to stop being afraid of people’s reaction to your no. when you say no to someone’s request, they either react in a positive or negative way.

Usually people who react in negative ways would try to make you feel bad for  not being able to give them what they are looking for. They do this to manipulate you. I usually call this emotional blackmail

But please, don’t feel bad. People’s reactions are beyond your control. And you making an informed decision that is not in their favor does not make you a bad person. I always say, we cannot be everything to everyone. Therefore if something is going to affect you negatively and make you overstretch yourself, don’t be afraid to express your inability to fulfill someone’s desire.

6. Offer an Alternative

The last of the simple strategies for saying no to others when needed is to offer an alternative. Objective people are usually open to alternatives to  their requests. Therefore, if you genuinely want to say yes to someone but find it is not possible to do so exactly as the person is requesting, you can go ahead and politely let them know you are happy to help, but in another way if they are open to that.

Doing this allows the person to see that you have a genuine heart to help. It also gives the opportunity for the person to decide if what works for you is an alternative for them or not

In conclusion

Saying no is something that we all have to consistently work on and it gets better by the day. It is very important to be able to say no to others when necessary because it allows you to regulate your responsibility loads and helps reduce your level of stress and burnout.

The six simple strategies for saying no to others when necessary are:

1.Set Reasonable Boundaries

2.Value yourself.

3.Don’t be aggressive, Be Assertive 

4.Replace the usual ‘quick yes’ with ‘…I will think about it’ 

5.Don’t be afraid of people’s reactions. 

6.Offer an alternative

Call To Action:

If you feel overwhelmed because saying no is something you struggle with, and you need help with creating balance in your life so that you can live a more purposeful life, I am more than happy to work with you. Or are you needing help with implementing these six simple strategies for saying NO to others?

Book a free discovery coaching session with me. In this session we will discuss your current situation and what your goals are. We will also decide together if working with me will be a good fit. Book your free session at empoweredforbalance.com/call


Ama Brew

Ama Brew

Ama Brew is a Best Selling Author, an ICF Credentialed Coach & a Key Note Speaker. Combining her B.A. in Psychology, Masters degree in Organizational Leadership & Human Resources, ICF Coach training and personal experience, Ama delivers a personalized coaching experience to help her clients gain more control in their lives, achieve balance, and design the lives they were meant to live: productive, purposeful, fulfilled & free from what’s held them back.