BWA Advice: The Power Of Saying “No”

Have you ever had your boss, friend or family ask you to do something you may not want to do? And as much as you’re thinking ‘I’d rather watch paint dry on a wall’ you automatically come out with the word ‘yes’. For most of us this is because we liken the word ‘no’ to a swear word. We fear letting people down and we don’t want to be the bad guy. We also pride ourselves on saying ‘yes’ because it makes us look good, it makes the other person feel good, and in return we get praise. But can the constant ‘yes’ be doing more damage than good?

If we oversell ourselves as a yes person we could turn into a doormat. Have you ever had the same person coming back to borrow money off you? The same hairdresser not giving you what you asked? The same friend who keeps borrowing your things? Or the boss who keeps adding to your ‘to do’ basket? While we think we are doing the right thing at the time saying ‘yes’, it only ends up getting us overwhelmed and stressed.

Saying ‘no’ is not a sign of weakness – but merely creating more power in our lives. Rachel Green from Confident Women Australia says in order to stand up for yourself, stay healthy and gain respect you need to be able to use the right confidence techniques to say, ‘No, thank you’. Rachel also says it’s important to say ‘no’ without justification, “When you justify your answers people may pursue your reasons and wear you down on those rather than the ‘No’. When you give reasons people usually keep on at you for longer.” So in other words we are not being a rude and uncaring bitch if we say no, but merely someone who is being real and creating boundaries. This way if we do say ‘yes’ – people know we actually mean it, and can count on us to tell the truth.
However for most of us saying a straight out ‘No’ is not as easy as it seems, and can sometimes come off as a bit harsh. So I thought it would be noble of me to share with BWA readers some nice but assertive ways of saying no when we get stuck in those sticky situations…

If a friend asks to borrow something that is as precious as a pair of Louboutins

A wise person once told me to ‘only lend if you’re happy to lose it’. So to get out of this situation it’s best to say ‘I’m really sorry but I haven’t worn it myself enough times yet’ or ‘It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I don’t lend any of my things to other people’. If you feel guilty, tell your friend you will help them find what they want, or help them piece an outfit together from their own wardrobe.

If someone asks you to borrow money and you are unwilling

‘I’m not in a financial position to lend money to people’. If it’s something as little as a drink or a meal just simply say ‘I wish I could help but I’m strapped for cash too’.

If someone asks you to help out or do something you don’t want to do

Rachel Green says it’s best to leave out your reasons, as the other person will only persist. So instead of saying ‘I’m sorry I can’t, I’m busy’ you might drop off the reasoning and say ‘Thank you, No’ politely. If you want to commit but it’s just not the right time, let them know when it will be. Don’t ever use the word ‘maybe’ if you intend on saying no as that is just false hope.

If your boss asks you to do another task on top of a already big ‘to-do’ pile

‘I don’t mind taking on this project but I’m also working on …… which I want to be completed to a high standard, so which project would you like done first?’ This way you are showing your dedication and professionalism, but leaving it up to your boss to decide what is more important. They can then decide what you should prioritize, or assign the task to someone else.

When you’re trying to be your best to avoid alcohol and your friends won’t stop persuading you to drink and go out…

‘I’m flattered you want me to drink with you all, but I simply don’t want to and I would appreciate it if you could respect that.’ You really don’t need to justify why you shouldn’t drink to your friends, especially when you’re still making the effort to hang out with them. This also applies if you are on a health-kick and avoiding junk food, just say ‘I’m trying really hard at this and would appreciate your support instead of persistence’.

When someone wants to bring a plus one to your party or gathering…

‘I’m sorry but it’s an intimate occasion and I’d like to stick to the guest-list I have’

That not so cute guy that asks for your number or to go on a date…

‘Thanks but I’m too caught up for anything right now’ or if you want to really get straight to the point say NICELY ‘Sorry I’m not interested’. If it is a first date gone wrong and he asks you on a second one say ‘Thank you for…. and I think you’re …… but to be honest with you I’m not interested’. Harsh, but it’s got to be done to avoid him questioning you.

To that pushy sales person in the shopping centre and in the changerooms…

‘It’s nice but it’s not my style, I might just have a wander myself thank you’ or ‘I don’t feel comfortable in it but thank you for your help’. It’s always important to be assertive and don’t hold back, as it’s part of a salespersons job to handle rejection.

To door-knock people and charity…

Obviously I’m not one to say no to charity, but I like to be particular about where my money is going. So if you don’t feel comfortable giving just simply say ‘I appreciate what you guys do, but I won’t be donating today’. If they ask for your number just say ‘give me your website/phone-number and I’ll have a look myself’.

To your hairdresser or make-up artist when they aren’t doing what you asked for…

It’s important to stop them the minute you notice something isn’t right and say ‘I trust you to make me look beautiful, but I’m not sure if this what I was going for, I just need some reassurance or go over what we talked about’. If it’s at the end of your session it’s important to say ‘I know your good at what you do and I appreciate that, but to be honest I don’t feel like it’s what I’ve asked for and I don’t feel happy walking away like this, can we please re-evaluate?’ Don’t ever feel bad for saying this, as most hairdressers and make-up artists want to keep their clients 100% satisfied and coming back for more.

In the end saying ‘no’ can be relatively easy when you do it with assertiveness. Just keep saying to yourself ‘I’m a confident woman who is in control and chooses what she wants’. For more tips on how to say no with confidence go to Rachel’s page here. So for now, as much as I know you guys want me to stick around…I’m just going to have to say NO!


  • Reply PamSimpson Thursday 30th May, 2013 at 12:40 am

    In high school I was guilty of being a yes person, and ended up a doormat just as the article predicts.

    I broke out of the yes mode gradually. First saying something like, “I’d rather not”, or, “I’m really busy, but if there’s no one else you can ask”. Unfortunately, half no’s are half yeses. The takers would always say, “Great!” or “Thanks!” as if I had agreed without reservation.

    By the time I left college my no’s were difficult to misinterpreted, “No!” My kinder refusals reserved for friends would be something like, “So you’re asking me to drop everything on my ‘To Do List’ so I can do this for you, even though I’ll probably be fired for not finishing my work, end up evicted because I can’t pay my rent and have to sleep on the floor in your living room?”

    Of course a lot of people think I’m a b*tch, but the only ones who have no time for me are the very same takers who were always asking me for something, and I was always saying yes to.

  • Reply ragdollbaby Wednesday 6th March, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Some really good suggestions.

  • Reply godsaur Tuesday 5th March, 2013 at 10:27 am


  • Reply Venga Tuesday 5th March, 2013 at 9:14 am


  • Reply stels Monday 4th March, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    great article!

  • Reply stels Monday 4th March, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    this is great!

  • Reply pearl06 Monday 4th March, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Good Tips

  • Reply Ian Monday 4th March, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    have to agree with hairdresser

  • Reply Whatthe Monday 4th March, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    It’s great to say no sometimes!!

  • Reply Sparkles17 Monday 4th March, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Great article I really need to say “NO”more often!

  • Reply amanda6393 Monday 4th March, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Fantastic article. I’ve been guilty of “yessing” in the past, but have become more selective in what I say yes to nowadays.
    Especially love the part about hairdressers. Who hasn’t walked away from at least one haircut not 100% satisfied?

  • Reply foxoduck Sunday 3rd March, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Goot tips 😛

  • Reply Whatthe Sunday 3rd March, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I like the cute skirt she’s wearing in the photo.

  • judi1
    Reply judi1 Saturday 2nd March, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Really good ways of saying ‘no’ assertively here!!!

  • Reply yslyenom Saturday 2nd March, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Taking note of these pointers.

  • Reply AmberB Saturday 2nd March, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Great advice!!

  • Reply Whatthe Saturday 2nd March, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Some great advice!

  • Reply BellaB Saturday 2nd March, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    It can be really hard to tell a hairdresser no – especially if she’s already started cutting!

  • Reply dj23249 Saturday 2nd March, 2013 at 9:58 am

    You go girlfriend

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