You woman standing saying no with text that says how to say no

How to Say No in 5 Easy Steps–Politely with Confidence

Learning how to say no is an empowering skill. It is hard to focus on our priorities when people ask for things that take our time and energy. If you feel saying no is hard, you’re not alone! Many people struggle to say no to others. In this post we discuss how to say no, and how to say no politely. You can be firm and confident, but also know how to say no nicely.

Saying no can be powerful. It can help us have space in our day to practice self-care, maintain our priorities, and signify we are setting personal boundaries with others.


It’s Ok to Say No

Saying no shows that you’re confident and people can’t take advantage of your kindness.

It can be a positive thing because it allows new opportunities to come into your life.

In addition, saying no to something can be a great way of preventing yourself from being overwhelmed, getting burned out, or having future regrets.

You have the right to say no, and it’s ok to do so.

You are never required to say “yes” when someone asks you for a favor or to do something.

We must permit ourselves to say no, even when someone might pressure us to say yes.

Before saying yes, consider your priorities.



How to Say No


1. Understand Your Priorities

What’s really important to you? Focus on those things that matter to you. Keep true to your well-being, principles, values, and goals.

Some people like to write out their priorities to stay focused on those things important to them.

Saying no can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.

When someone asks something of you, consider your priorities and where you want to spend your time and energy.



2. Maintain Personal Boundaries

Personal boundaries are essential in healthy relationships.

Boundaries are the limits we set with others, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior toward us.

Some of us say yes a lot because we tend to put other people’s needs above our own.

Don’t be unfair to yourself. You deserve time for yourself – remember your priorities.

The person asking something of you has their own priorities as well. We all do.

By saying yes to everyone, you can become a victim of your own kindness because you are not maintaining clear boundaries.

You can only do so much in a day and should be considering your well-being and priorities.

This may mean saying “No” more often.



3. Stop the Automatic ‘Yes’ Response

Many of us always give a yes when asked to do something. Instead of answering with an automatic yes response, make it a habit NOT to say yes but rather think about it.

If you know it is something you do not want to do, answer no.

If you are not sure, say something like “let me get back to you on that” or “I will think about it.”

Not only does this usually stop the person from asking, but it also gives you time to consider your response.

Then, you can think things over, and if it is not one of your priorities, you can provide them with a firm “no” later.



4. Be Aware of Persuasion

People may not like hearing no for an answer, especially when they are used to you saying yes.

Some may try to guilt you into saying yes or may ask you twice – or more!

Stand firm and keep saying no. And you don’t have to say yes just because you, or someone else, said yes before.

It’s usually easier to say no if you have a concrete reason why you can’t do something, but just because you don’t have a concrete reason (like you have other plans or are busy at the moment) doesn’t mean you have to say yes.

You deserve some downtime and time to enjoy doing those things you treasure.



5. Practice Saying No

Many people say yes because it is easier, or you may feel uncomfortable saying no.

It may feel a little awkward at first, but you can practice saying no to yourself.

Stand in front of a mirror and watch how you respond if someone asks for something you do not want to do.

Practicing will help you get more comfortable saying no and lessen the anxiety when the time comes for you to stand firm.

Once you answer, accept your decision and don’t keep thinking about it. Don’t drain your energy thinking about it or feeling guilty.




young woman standing winking with text saying how to say no politely



How to Say No Politely


1. Start with a Positive Statement

Once you decide your response is no, stand firm with your answer, but you can deliver it politely.

One recommendation to say no politely is to start with a compliment or by showing gratitude to soften the no response. That is if a compliment is appropriate for the situation.

For example, to say no nicely, you can express gratitude for being invited.

Or, let them know you are happy they felt comfortable asking you for the favor.


2. Make Your Response Clear

When saying no, be firm and make sure it is clear you are saying no.

Although a polite response usually works well, stay firm and do not feel you have to explain yourself.


3. Be Kind

To keep things on a good note, you can thank the person for thinking of you and wish them good luck.

You can say no firmly without being rude.



Examples – Saying No Politely

Here are some examples of saying no politely:

  • I am happy you feel comfortable asking me to help you move into your new apartment, but I do not have the time to help you. Good luck with your move and new place.


  • I appreciate you thinking of me and inviting me to the movies. I’m focusing on my health and do not want to disturb my workout routine, so I do not want to go to the movies. Thank you for asking, and I hope you enjoy the movie.


  • You’re so kind to think of me to participate in this community event. However, I do not have much free time, so I will not attend. Thank you for asking. I know you will pull together a great group of volunteers.


  • I am thrilled you thought of me to take on this project. However, I am very busy with other projects I am working on and cannot take on any new work. Thank you for asking. I know you will find someone very qualified who has the time.


Do not feel obligated to explain yourself. There are shorter ways to say no nicely.


Examples – Saying No without saying “No”

Here are examples of how to say no nicely, and not as harsh as a straight no:

  • I choose not to
  • That does not work for me
  • Not at this time
  • I’m not interested
  • No thank you
  • Not today, thanks
  • Apologies, but I can’t make it
  • Sadly I have something else
  • I’d love to – but I can’t



red haired caregiver helping elderly woman walk with walker


Caregivers – Respite Care

If you feel overwhelmed with caring for a family member, ask family or friends for help.

Another option, consider looking into respite care.

Respite care is when someone else helps with the caregiving responsibilities, so you are not overwhelmed.

To find what respite care services are available in your area, your local Area Agency on Aging is a good starting point.

Each state has its local agency, and they are there to help seniors with things like meals on wheels, health insurance consultation, and caregiver support services.



Posts You May Find Interesting: 


For more information about community resources and how to find what help you may qualify for, please read our post: What Are Community Resources and How to Find Them


Do you want to learn more about time management? Read our post: 10 Time Management Tips for Caregivers


If you’re caring for a someone, it’s important you take care of yourself and recharge your batteries. Please read our post: Self Care For Caregivers





Saying no can avoid burnout and resentment. If you say yes too much, you may neglect yourself or your other priorities. In addition, you may start to resent someone because you overextended yourself to help them. Most importantly, you deserve to have time to take care of yourself and do things you enjoy.


Are you ready to start staying no more? Let us know in the comments below 😀





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