Say It With Me. No Is Not A Bad Word.

No, it is a simple two-letter word that exerts significant power. The opening line seems sensational, but some people struggle with saying “no.”


Do you feel guilty about saying “No”?


I’ve had several interactions in the last month that prompted me to write about the dreaded two-letter word. First, I will provide a brief synopsis of one such exchange.

The young man felt his roommate was making unreasonable requests, and he wanted to know, “is it ok to tell my roommate; no?” His concern about saying “no” was, “we live in the same house, and I don’t want to walk on eggshells around him.”


When someone shares an experience, the narrative can be framed as the lens through which the person sharing the experience interprets the situation. For example, you may want to hear the other person’s perspective to form your conclusion. Hearing both sides of the story is a reasonable premise before offering feedback but hearing both sides is not always possible. The striking thing in the young man’s narrative was that he sought permission or validation to say “no” to what he considered unreasonable?


Someone makes a request, you are well-intentioned; therefore, you say “yes” when “no” might be the appropriate response. You rarely, if ever, say “no,” and you find people volunteering you for tasks they do not want for themselves because of your propensity to say “yes.” The people around you become accustomed to you saying “yes” to their many requests for your time. They describe you as kind, giving, dependable, helpful, and accommodating.


Little do they know that you would rather say “no” than “yes” on several occasions, but you often go along to get along. It seems individuals who reflexively say “yes” may attach negative connotations to the word “no,” and they say “yes” possibly because of nervousness.


Therefore, to avoid the potential for conflict, you convince yourself that the request is just a simple ask and won’t be too much of a bother. Without recognizing, always being available may not necessarily be emotionally healthy for you. Hence, it makes good sense to practice saying “no” when you think it is appropriate.


Although, you can learn to be an assertive communicator and use the decisive “no.” Saying “no” still proves a difficult proposition for you. The exact reason for your inability to say “no” may be related to the early messages you received about sharing, being polite, being kind, thoughtful, and considerate of others. Consequently, you may learn to be anxious and apprehensive when you have to say “no” because saying “no” goes against the grain of what you learned.


You are probably reading and thinking what’s wrong with saying “yes” there’s absolutely no problem with saying “yes,” but are you saying yes just for its sake? Indeed, being thoughtful, polite, and considerate of others are excellent people skills to develop but not at the expense of your mental health.


Do you justify or rationalize your reason for saying “no” with explanations?

  • To make sure the person understands you are not trying to be mean

  • You still appreciate them as friends, and you apologize profusely.

  • Walk away from saying “no” feeling guilty about using this most potent two-letter word

  • To minimize perceived conflict

When you determine it is appropriate to use the two-letter word:

  • Don’t give a lengthy explanation; be brief, firm, and transparent in your answer.

  • When you decide to say “no” to a request or demand of your time, begin your response with “No” so there’s no ambiguity about your answer.

  • Don’t be shy about asking for more information to get an accurate picture of what is being asked of you before you give an answer.

  • Remember, you have a right to say no without feeling guilty about your decision.

  • Don’t begin with “I’m sorry, but ….”

Sometimes when you say “no,” the other person(s) may try to persuade you to say “yes,” so:

  • Remember, the decision is still yours to make after determining if the request is reasonable.

  • You may use the Broken Record strategy to reiterate your position if your answer is “no.” Instead, employ the broken record technique when you want to be persistent with your answer; therefore, you stick to the facts rather than get drawn into a debate about your decision to say “no.”

  • You may also utilize Fogging to remain firm in your decision. If you had developed a reputation of reflexively saying “yes,” then saying “no” will be new to the person making the request. If you are criticized for saying “no,” you do not respond to or deny the criticism with criticism of your own.

  • Set and maintain healthy boundaries, so those making requests will know what you find acceptable or unacceptable.

Saying “no” can undoubtedly feel uncomfortable, but it does not mean you should say “yes” to appease the person making the request. Saying “no” when appropriate is like any other skill we adopt to our repertoire of behaviors. You must practice being assertive without hesitancy about the decisions you determine to be reasonable.


Thanks for reading my blog.


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