• Kay Harrington

3 ways to learn to say "No"

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

For so many of us saying “no", that tiny two lettered word, packed with meaning and baggage can be SOOO hard! Particularly for people pleasers and those that want others to like us (i.e. most of us!).

Don't get me wrong.....saying “yes” is fabulous and there are many times when saying yes to something is exactly what we should be doing. However, this is about those times when we really want to say “no" but, hear ourselves saying the word “yes" instead!

Why do we do this???

● we want to please people and feel we will be judged negatively if we say “no".

● we haven’t set boundaries in our relationships with others.

● we can find it challenging to say “no" to difficult people.

There are many reasons it can happen. Sometimes it can be linked to the programming we got as young children growing up.

Why is it a problem???

● saying “yes" to everything can leave us feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

● it can lead to burnout particularly in the workplace.

● it can lead us to feel resentful and bitter towards others.

● it can stop us pursuing things that we ourselves really enjoy or want to do as our time is taken up.

So, what can we do to help us say “no”

Tip 1

Set Boundaries

So many of us need to stop and ask ourselves the question

“What are my boundaries?”

Think about what we want to create in our lives and what boundaries need to be in place to enable that to happen?

Would you really like to exercise everyday after the school drop off but get sidelined by a school mum who wants to go for coffee and tell you the same story that you’ve heard a hundred times about her woeful life?!!

Would you really like to say “yes” to the new work project that would work perfectly with a small team of people, but find yourself saying “yes” to doing it all by yourself?

If we spend the time really thinking about what we want and what boundaries need to be in place it helps us to set them!!

Setting boundaries is a vital part of having healthy relationships and establishing an overall sense of wellbeing.

It can actually help to improve our relationships in the long term. Being surrounded by those that respect our boundaries can be life changing.

Tip 2

Don’t be put off by the reaction of others

When we set boundaries and start saying the word “no" when all we’ve ever said is “yes", it’s fair to say that we can expect a healthy dose of pushback from others! It is so unfamiliar to them.

● We can experience anger from others.

● We can experience disappointment from others.

● We can even experience rejection from others.

The basic truth is that when we start setting boundaries with people we may not always get a pleasant reaction. We can still however, work to firmly maintain the boundaries that that we set.

Tip 3

Be kind to yourself

How many of us are compassionate, kind and giving to others but not to ourselves?!

Self-care is crucial.

It maintains our health and wellbeing.

● So don’t let the week pass by without setting some time aside for self-care.

● My friend told me recently that she schedules in her exercise just like she does with her work commitments. Exercise is what she needs to do to relax and nourish herself and that gets scheduled in, and is a priority just like any other important things in life. What a great tip!


It can be challenging setting boundaries but don’t be discouraged.

Sarri Gilman did a brilliant TEDx talk called Good Boundaries Free You which is worth a watch.

If you’d like help setting and creating boundaries in your own life then feel free to give me a call and we can chat more.

You can do it!!

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