Sometimes, it can be difficult to say what you mean and mean what you say. Here are a few tips to say ‘No’ in a sticky situation.


Sisters are some of the busiest women around, but taming your hectic schedule could be as easy as learning to say “no” more often.  If your life sometimes feels overloaded, read on.  I’ll give you the script to speak up and stop taking on so much.  The result?  A happier, healthier you.

Do you seem to find yourself saying “yes” when what you really want to say is “no”?  Someone invites you to an event you really have no interest in, but you get tongue tied and agree to go – not because you want to, but because you can’t think of a gracious way to say “no.”  A co-worker asks you to take on a project you really don’t have time to do.  You want to be nice, so you  say “yes,” only to find yourself stressing out about the deadline a week later.

Manipulative people know who they can get to say “yes.”  And in many instances they don’t even bother asking those of us who’ve learned to say otherwise.  So you get sucked into doing things because you won’t say one little word:  NO.

There’s only one reason you say “yes” when you don’t mean it:  Fear.  Whether the consequence is emotional blackmail, a temper tantrum or someone’s perception that you are selfish or not nice, it is your fear of the worst case scenario that causes you to say “yes.”  But if you want to be authentic, you’ll need to learn to say “no.”  It will feel uncomfortable at first, but it will also feel good – empowering. And it will free you up for the stuff you actually want to say “yes” to.  Here are four simple ways to say “no,” even in the stickiest of situations:

1.   Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that will happen if I say no?”  Seriously.

In the moment it bombards you, confront your negative thinking.  Your imagination can get the best of you when fear is involved.  You might tell yourself, “She’ll never talk to me again,” when the reality is she’ll get over it by tomorrow.  And even if she doesn’t, you really need to question the health of any relationship in which you cannot say “no” without dire consequences.

2.   Let me think about it.

If you find yourself on the verge of saying “yes,” and too afraid to just say what you want to say, then say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” This gives you the opportunity to get clear about your thoughts, and even write down what you want to say.  Then get back to them and say “no.”

3.   Tell the truth.

One of the most disarming ways to say “no” is to tell the person how anxious you feel about saying “no.”  It goes something like this, “I have been really wrestling with telling you this because I’d really like to help, but I just can’t.  I’m not sure if you’ll even understand, but I really hope you will.  With all that’s on my plate, I can’t add anything else.”

4.   A Simple N-O will do.

In many situations, no explanation is necessary. Start practicing today.  Say it with me:  “No.”  Out loud this time:  “No.”  Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Try it today with simple requests.  And build up to bigger ones.  Courage is a muscle.  No is a word that will help you strengthen it.

and speaker Valorie Burton is the author several books, including How Did I Get So Busy? and Listen to Your Life. Subscribe to her free e-newsletter at