3 Easy Ways to Say No Without Really Saying No

say no

As human beings, it’s difficult to say no because we’re wired for connection. Our brains crave socialization to some extent, no matter if we fall on the extrovert side of the spectrum or the introvert side.

We are taught at a young age that “no” means bad or danger, and this is why, unconsciously, it’s hard to say no, even if it’s something we don’t really want to do. We’ve all heard that it takes more energy to frown than to smile….. Well, the same thing holds true for neural connectivity in the brain when we say no.

People say yes to things all of the time for things they wish they rather not have. Why, you ask? Because it’s easier! It’s easier to be miserable and say yes to something you don’t truly want to do, than to say NO.

healthy boundaries

However, saying "yes" when you don't want to, comes at a cost, explains Nedra Glover Tawwab, L.C.S.W. “The inability to say 'no' is a sign of passive communication style,” which is a pattern of avoiding expressing one’s true feelings and needs, which can result in anxietydepression and resentment.

But one thing I know for sure, if we keep riding the “yes-express”, we will eventually burnout because we’re spending time and precious energy on events, purchases, outings and such that we don’t really desire.

Your dreams and desires demand your YES!!.... They also require that you have the wherewithal to say NO when needed.

This is why it’s also imperative to know your why. Know what you want. Highlight it. Circle it. Write out what you desire. And then….say no to everything else that is not this.

This one step will save you from headaches, frustration and burnout.

work place boundaries

Here are 3 easy ways to say no without technically saying no.

1. Question: Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies??

Response: I would love to; however, purchasing cookies right now doesn’t align with my health goals. Can I make a donation instead?

If “no” is hard for you, try this approach. It’s easier to start with a positive and roll with your plan.

2. Question: A bunch of us from the team are hitting up a bar tonight. Wanna’ hang?

Response: Sounds fun! I’ll have to skip out on this one. Thank you for thinking of me though!

3. Question: I think you’d be good at this position. It’s non-paid and would require more focus at work. But I think you’d love it.

Response: Unfortunately, this does not align with my core values and goals within the company. I will have to respectively decline.


Please keep in mind, these are short and simple. Your examples may look completely different. Saying no when fun and exciting things come up is hard! But remember, you are committed to your excellence and in return by staying committed, you will in turn feel more abundant by saying no to the things that are not yours.


What are the most effective ways you tell people “no”? Let me know in the comments below.

Anna GallagherComment