Home Personal Improvement Reasons to Say No and Why it is So Important

Reasons to Say No and Why it is So Important

by Derrick
woman holding hand up able to say no

Saying no won’t win anyone a popularity contest, but there are plenty of reasons to say no. People won’t be happy to hear it and it will likely be held against you.

Which begs the question, why is making other people happy more important than making yourself happy? Living to please others is not good for anyone’s physical or mental health.

Best Reasons to Say No – And What Does Your No Mean

We may view saying no as a negative. In fact, saying no can positively affect your life and your wallet. Being able to say no also impacts how people view you, often in positive ways. Here are some reasons you should consider saying no:

  1. By telling someone no, you are acknowledging that your time and efforts are valuable. Your time takes priority over other people. You matter.
  1. We have established that the word no rarely leads to popularity. It can get people angry when we stand up for ourselves and refuse to be doormats. That small, two-letter word translates into a demand for respect. There are bullies in the world who need everything to go their way, and the word no can go a long way to vanquishing them.
  1. There are times we don’t know what we want, and that is okay. Life is an ongoing journey. However, a firm no indicates that in a particular situation, we know exactly what we want and are taking care of our needs.
  1. There are times in life we may wish to say yes and help someone out. But we are not under any obligation to do so. Even at work, where we are being paid to do someone’s bidding, the “boss” does not have unlimited access to our soul and moments of our life. The same goes for our spouses and even children.
  1. There is a good chance that the person on the receiving end of the no will be hurt and/or resentful. The truth is, everyone will judge any of your actions, regardless of what they are. It’s a bad idea to let the opinion of others dictate what you do.
  1. There are many to-do items to be accomplished every day, and you must set the priorities. If dinner with a friend cannot be fit into your schedule, it is healthier for you to say no instead of upending your schedule.
  1. You love the people around you, especially your good friends and family. However, if you don’t take care of your needs first, how will you take care of them? Self-care frequently involves saying yes to yourself and no to someone else.
  1. Anyone who has been around a toddler is aware that as a child develops, the word no comes naturally. Why is it so easy for children to say no to anything and everything? At the age of two or three, they learn about self-assertion and separating themselves from others. And they figure out quickly that the word no does the job. It provides a two-year-old with some control over his or her life. It is the ability to say (or shout) the word no that helps turn youngsters into real little people. While no one is recommending a toddler tantrum, it is interesting to note that no is one of a child’s first methods of learning and assertion. It is what gives the child its first sense of power.

When You Say Yes To Something, You Are Saying No To Something Else

paper with yes and no

Life is all about priorities. When you say no to something you are saying yes to something else, and vice-versa. When you say yes to the hamburger for lunch, you are simultaneously saying no to the salad. If you say yes to playing golf, you are saying no to going to your daughter’s recital. Every yes or no is a choice.

It may come as a surprise that most of us base our choices on two factors: time and money. Interestingly, the major focus is money instead of time. We forget how precious our time is, and how fleeting it can be when we don’t hold on to it. We lose time that is meant for us whenever we accommodate someone with a yes instead of saying no.

Studies have demonstrated the following about people who value their time:

  1. They have a higher level of happiness and satisfaction. Their happiness comes from their choices, not their bank account.
  1. Money-focused people have little time left over for anything else other than working and earning, and that especially includes relationships. What we frequently forget is that relationships take work, too. And a good relationship is priceless.
  1. People who value their time are less likely to choose a career for its monetary value. That means that they will opt for work that they enjoy, most likely excel at, and that can ultimately bring them a great income.
  1. People who value their time rarely waste it by comparing themselves and their situation to others. People who focus on money do exactly that by comparing their car, house, and bank account to those with whom they come in contact. Some extreme ones probably even compare children. They come obsessed with wealth.

Setting Your Priorities

Each of us has one life to live, and the quality of that life depends almost entirely on our choices and priorities. To quote an anonymous but well-known saying, “At the end of your life, you will regret the things you didn’t do rather than the things you did.” This all-too-frequently translates into saying yes to yourself and no to others.


If we are fortunate, we are surrounded by loved ones. They make our life worth living. However, taking care of ourselves needs to remain our top priority, and that can be managed only when we say yes to ourselves. Self-care implies nurturing our mind and our body. Instead of wasting time in front of a television set, we can grow and become the best version of ourselves by eating better, exercising, and improving our minds.

Education and Personal Growth

There are many ways to grow throughout life. Simply by volunteering or learning a new skill we continue our personal growth. Spending time reading can also teach us a great deal, and here, the statistics are horrendous. Only one-third of high school students pick up a book post-graduation. Less than half of college graduates read after graduation. Eighty percent of Americans have not bought a book in a year. This can happen when we are focused on others instead of ourselves. When we focus on ourselves, learning is a lifetime journey.

Say Yes to Hobbies

Too many people avoid vacations and hobbies in order to give the appearance of being a hard worker. They are saying yes to an image for other people while giving a resounding no to their own needs. Whether it is a sport, cooking, gardening, or traveling, our hobbies add a great deal to the quality of our lives. It’s time we said no to those who treat our hobbies as merely trivial.

Learning the Skill of Saying No

learn to say no advice written on paper

Learning to say no doesn’t come naturally to many people. There are ways to say no that don’t actually sound like “no.” It is rarely something that we are taught during our childhood. Quite the opposite; usually, we are admonished not to be “selfish” and to consider the needs of someone else before our own. By the time we reach adulthood, we may have no clue how to say no. Fortunately, it is a skill that can be learned and improved.

  1. Frame Your Refusal Nicely – even if the request is cringeworthy, your no can be nice, polite, and regretful. And firm.
  1. Don’t hedge; make your position clear – being wishy-washy with your answer only makes matters worse while it confuses the listener. A clear, “Sorry, I won’t be able to do this,” keeps the situation unambiguous. You drift into wishy-washy territory with responses such as, “Well, I don’t know right now,” or “Let’s just see.”
  1. Show gratitude at being asked – perhaps you’d prefer a root canal to accept a certain party invitation, but the questioner doesn’t have to know this. He or she was nice enough to ask, and you should respond in kind. “I so wish I could come; thanks a lot for asking, but … I am unable to make it. Sorry.” If you wish to provide a short explanation, you can do so, but it is not necessary.
  1. You can always suggest an alternative. For example, if asked to take part in the pie sale at school, you can say no but offer to bring the snacks for the next game day.
  1. While it is inadvisable to be wishy-washy, sometimes you can’t give an immediate definite answer to a request. But you can explain your maybe answer. For example, “I’d love dinner on Friday, but my mother may be staying the weekend. She promised to call me by Wednesday. Could I let you know then?”

The Power of No

no banners

We agree that saying no can for troublesome for people (“My mother-in-law will kill me if I don’t do this,” or “the co-worker will never ask me to lunch again.”). However, few consider the power of this small word. Like David, it can vanquish a Goliath of an argument.

No is mostly seen as negative, a refusal, or rejection. However, negativity is a state of mind that can span from petulant to whiny. Negative people rarely rouse and lift others. In short, negativity is weak.

Saying no, on the other hand, is an emphatic positive choice. It’s powerful. It affirms to the world who you are; take it or leave it. Following are just some of the powerful gains that people enjoy from the word no:

  1. Everyone says, “Be true to yourself,” but that can easily turn into a bromide when your true self conflicts with the wants of others. Saying no encourages and boosts your values and enhances your level of integrity.
  1. The people around you will happily exploit your nice side as they expect a yes to their requests. These people consider it a given that you will put their needs before your own and that they have every right to expect this. This happens all-too-frequently, such as when a friend has been granted one favor (perhaps a ride to work) and subsequently feels entitled to that same ride whenever the need arises.  The word no can protect you from the sense of entitlement of others.
  1. You have goals. These can be short-term goals such as what to have for dinner or do for the weekend or long-term goals, such as saving money for a new car or house. Other people’s requests can make you lose sight of your goals. For example, a good friend always wants to go to an expensive restaurant. This is fine, you enjoy his or her company, but it invariably cuts into your savings plan for a planned purchase. The word no can keep your goals in focus. You can always suggest someplace less expensive or a homecooked meal.
  1. The people around us know who they can count on to be an easy touch for a yes. When they realize you have the power of no, they may not be happy, but you will have earned their respect.


Most of the time, we are happy to help a friend or family member. Then there are times when we are unable to do so for whatever reason. Perhaps we are busy or simply do not wish to do what is being asked of us. And we feel guilty.

We have established that saying no is important to both our physical and mental well-being. So why would we feel any guilt? Guilt can be a legitimate emotion – for when we do something wrong. It’s a stop sign and a directive for us to look at what we are doing wrong and perhaps improve our behavior. Once we can accept that saying no is not wrong, but beneficially, we can stop feeling guilty.

In addition, we expect people to get angry with us over a no. But realistically, this rarely happens. When we have the mindset to say no, we need to expect others to have an equally reasonable mindset – until we are proven wrong. Or course, not everyone approaches us with the best of intentions and saying no can help us sort the friendly from the unfriendly. It is just another advantage of learning to say no.

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