I Just Can’t Say No


    By Charlotte Salafia


    It is a real challenge for some people to say no. I have friends who say they think they are being rude if they say no to someone.


    Let me break down the challenge then offer another way to look at things.


    When you can’t say no, usually it’s because you have a belief that you will appear rude if you say no or that you are not being helpful.  In other words, you believe you always have to help everyone.


    There’s nothing wrong with being helpful at all. We all need each other to survive and it’s important for us to help other people. There just needs to be a line and that’s not always the easy part to find.


    Not saying no fills up your day with other peoples tasks. It takes the focus away from your own tasks and your family and loved ones. It can eat up your time.


    Most people that you say no to will just move on and ask someone else. It’s really not that big a deal. A question you might ask yourself is “why am I saying yes?” Do you get significance or feel important when someone asks you to do something? Do you think it will lower their opinion of you if you say no?


    When is it OK to say no?


    If you are at work and have a task to complete, you have to get your own work done. Often you might think if you say no then  you are not being a team player. You can be a team player and still say no and here’s how. Let’s say your co worker asks for your help with a project, you simply say “I’d love to assist you with your project. I have a project of my own that is due soon and am focused on that. When I have finished and if I have time, I will assist you with your project.” That indicates that you are interested in helping out and yet you just don’t have the time.


    When someone asks you to head up a committee and you have other commitments you can just say “I’d love to help out with the committee, I just am not able to head it up at this time, I have too many commitments. Let me know how I can assist you on this committee.”


    Any time someone asks you to do something, it’s OK to say no if you need to or just want to. People will always ask the person who always says yes First!  


    One great thing to do is to put yourself in the other persons shoes. Often times, they will ask you to do something because they think you enjoy it. I had a friend who babysat kids during the day while their parents were at work. Sometimes they would ask her to babysit in the evening if they had an event or a date. She would ALWAYS say yes. Then she would complain to me that she was babysitting. I pointed out that the reason some of the parents ask is because they probably want to help her out with more money. I told her if I asked her to babysit and she didn’t want to that she should just say no. I’d rather get a no that be resented. I’d just go find another sitter. She had NEVER thought of that before.


    Again, it’s great to help other people and perhaps to ease off saying yes all the time, give yourself an allotted amount of time for helping. When someone asks and you have run out of time, you can honestly say ” I don’t have time for that.”


    You really don’t owe anyone a reason and you don’t have to give one. If you want to then you can simply say “I have another commitment.” They don’t need to know what it is. It could be a commitment to spend some alone time or to cuddle with your kids or watch TV with your partner. When you save time for your own priorities it’s easy to say that you are already busy.


    Saying no is not a bad thing, it can be a good thing. Give yourself a break and enjoy your time and your life. Your time and life are just as important as anyone elses.



    Charlotte Salafia is a Life Coach/NLP practitioner/Speaker.  She studied communications and life coaching with the Human Communications Institute. She is also the author of the MomsWith A Passion Blog.