Published 11 July 2017



Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourself what on earth is he talking about.

Anyone can say no. And we do. Often.

But seriously, do we? When we need to? I’m not so sure.



Here’s the thing. You know don’t you that I am most definitely not talking about when your Mum or Boy-Girlfriend asks you to clear up the house, or if your kid asks you to buy yet again another toy or when your neighbour asks to borrow the lawn mower, etcetera ad nauseum - which is Latin and means we all have our own private stock of vomit provoking stories when we really should have said no – but didn’t!

When I was younger, I found it difficult to say no. but as I get older, I find it easier.I have learnt to say no nicely, respectfully, calmly, sometimes even poetically. But no it is. No is what you get. No is my answer.

And despite what you may think or what you may have been told, saying no is a difficult thing to do.

But why is that? Well, it’s all about context of course. Who is asking what and why but the reasons why we are often reluctant or even incapableof saying no are intricately tied to things such as fear, hope, pride, weakness and cowardice.  I know that that hurts but we all do the same thing. We are all of us in the same no-boat.


  •         We are afraid of saying no because we fear there could be negative repercussions.

♦   The boss asks someone to work over the weekend.


  •         We do not say no because we hope that there will be positive repercussions.

♠   Some girl asks if you would see her home but she lives 250 miles away.


  •         We may be too proud to acknowledge that we would rather refuse.

♣   Your mother in law insinuates that you would be incapable of painting her kitchen.


  •         Sometimes it’s just easier to say yes than to say no.

♥   A customer asks for an unreasonable discount and you would rather avoid the hassle of arguing (negotiating) so you weakly accept.


These are of course just a few examples and each of us will have our own. Either from first-hand experience, or from someone close to us.


So here are some things you might want to think about which could help you say no.

  • If you say no because you are afraid then this situation will repeat itself. So if you do accept, make it crystal clear that this is exceptional and will not become routine.


  • If you expect something in return. Make it clear from the beginning.


  • Pride deafens us to the advice or warnings of those around us' – a quote from John C Maxwell.


  • Many of us are simply in the habit of always saying yes. Being able to say no takes getting used to. Try it.


Of course, I am not telling you to always say no, we are obviously only talking about those instances when it’s in your best interest to say no.

In fact, you really do need to analyse the situation and see if there is an advantage, or a threat and decide if you should say no, or not.

Take your time. Try not to let anyone push you into making a quick decision. It will be harder to go back and say that you’ve changed your mind than to say no in the first place.


Finally, here’s a few lines that may help you.

  •         I’m not sure that’s possible.
  •         I need time to think about it.
  •         I need time to check with my boss/business partner/bank/spouse/insurance company
  •         I see why you would want that but I don’t see any advantage for us.
  •         That’s cute, nice try.
  •         Sorry but we don’t do that. That’s not our policy.
  •         Very sorry but no I won’t be able to do that.

Saying no isn’t easy so practice. You don’t have to be rude or insulting but you do have to be firm and determined. People must see that when you say no, it doesn’t mean maybe.

It’ll make all those times that you say yes even more eloquent. 





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