How to Say No

Learning how to say no is a tricky subject. It’s important to acknowledge that saying yes can lead you down the wrong path of overcommitting yourself and taking on too much responsibility. A way to say no without hurting someone’s feelings is by choosing not from what they ask, but from what you need or want at that time in your life.

“How to Say No” is a book that teaches children how to say no in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and stressed. The book also includes tips on how to say no without feeling guilty or ashamed. Read more in detail here: how to say no book.

Harry Truman president bucking in his office.

On AoM, we’ve spoken a lot about the Nice Guy Syndrome. You’re familiar with him. People pleaser extraordinaire, who constantly puts others before himself and allows others walk all over him. Maybe you’re that person. These so-called Nice Guys may look cheerful on the surface, but they’re burned out, bitter, and miserable on the inside.

Many “Nice Guys” fall into the trap of constantly answering “Yes!” to each request that comes their way. These “yes guys” are frightened that if they say no, their popularity would dwindle. The Nice Guy adds duties and deadlines to his already hectic schedule by saying yes to everything. He ends up spreading himself so thin that he can’t even meet the commitments he agreed to in the first place, which leads to people resenting Mr. Nice Guy- the same consequence Mr. Nice Guy was attempting to prevent by saying yes in the first place!

A guy establishes his basic beliefs, objectives, and priorities, devotes time to them, and refuses to do activities that are incompatible with his priorities. By chasing the limitless prospects for the just good, he does not lose sight of the best.

What the Nice Guys don’t comprehend is that having a strong backbone and the ability to say no while keeping nice connections with others is feasible. It’s even feasible to say no to someone while still making them believe you’re a great man.

If you’re having difficulties saying no to people, we’ve got some tips on how to do it without coming off as a jerk.

Make sure you don’t take the no personally. Instead of making it seem as though you’re declining because you don’t like the person, believe their cause is absurd, or find their gatherings to be tedious, just tell them you’re “following the rules.” This means that you are unable to answer yes because of your own rules.

  • “I won’t be able to attend the Polka Festival on Monday night since we usually have family night on Monday.”
  • “I’m afraid I won’t be able to contribute to your cause.” We’ve decided to put aside a portion of our philanthropic funds for our church and the Red Cross.”
  • “Thank you for inviting me, but I don’t date ladies who have more than eleven cats.”

Let them know you wish you could accept their invitation. Allowing someone to know that you understand their request but are unable to fulfill it can help to lessen the shock of the no.

  • “I would have delighted to have hired you—you have the perfect personality for the job.” However, HR has already identified an inside applicant for the position.”
  • “Speaking at your conference would have been a huge pleasure for me. Every year, I look forward to it and am always amazed by the presentations. But I’ve got just too much on my plate right now.”

Demonstrate that you considered your options before declining. It’s just as painful to feel as though you’re being passed over as it is to hear “no.” Demonstrate to the individual that you spent time understanding their request before declining it.


  • “This was a great screenplay to see. I enjoy how the man-eating robot and the platypus make friends in the third scene. However, at this moment, the studio is mostly focused on romantic comedies.”

Provide a “comfort award.” If you are unable to completely fulfill someone’s request, consider how you might still assist them.

  • “I won’t be able to referee the game, but I’ll provide a keg for the after-party.”
  • “I won’t be able to attend the Scout trip this year, but I will be able to serve at the Pinewood Derby.”

Demonstrate to them that your “no” is in their best interests. You may soften the blow of your rejection by demonstrating why having you on board would have been a bad idea regardless.

  • Your newsletter is always excellent. Even if I had been able to find time to write any pieces for you, they would not have matched the high standards for which you are recognized.”
  • Even if I’d been the chaperone for the all-night lock-in, I’m sure I’d have dozed off, allowing some youngster to shoot his eye out with an airsoft pistol.”

Say no by assisting the individual in saying no to himself. Clients who want something they know will not look well or work out well are a source of irritation for web designers, barbers, and other creatives. However, if you flatly refuse, the customer may get enraged and defensive. Instead, inquire about their objectives and then explain why your solution will not assist them in achieving them.

  • “If you want your website to have a clean, contemporary design, all these rainbows and unicorns in the background might detract from that.” Let me show you some instances that could be more relevant to your needs.”
  • “You have a chin that looks like it belongs to Jay Leno or Paul Giamatti.” That haircut would simply exaggerate the size.”

Tell them what they need to do to receive a “yes.” If the situation isn’t bleak, don’t make it seem so.

  • “I’m afraid I won’t be able to give you an A on this paper.” You’re nearly there, however. Include a better thesis statement and more supporting evidence next time, and your score will skyrocket.”

Identify flaws in their request. If someone comes to you with an idea that isn’t going to work no matter who they speak to or how they alter it, sugarcoating your no isn’t going to help him. But yelling, “Get out of here, knucklehead!” isn’t the way to proceed. Instead, gently uncover the flaws in their strategy by asking them some questions. You’re doing them a favor by assisting them in seeing how unsustainable their notion is.

  • “All right, and who would be the target market for a toupee with breast hair?”

Simply say no. DARE was correct—sometimes all you have to do is “say no.” There’s no need to soften your denial if someone is wasting your time and doesn’t respect you. Tell them no and get out of there.


A last thought. While these tips can help you cushion the impact of a rejection, they should not be delivered with ambiguity or hesitation. You must be tough and confident while staying courteous and friendly. Say your stuff and then move on. Allowing someone else to shame you into doing something by making you feel awful about your choice is not a good idea. Saying yes, even to excellent causes, merely because you’re scared to say no, is not a source of pride. However, regardless of what others think of you, you will achieve self-respect by making choices that are consistent with your basic beliefs and objectives.

Listen to our podcast on how to get rid of the good man syndrome:




“How to Say No” is a question that comes up in many situations. There are many ways to say no without saying no. Reference: how to say no without saying no.

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