Trouble Saying No - Respect Your Boundaries

Medically Reviewed by: Ilbey Ucar – PhD (Psychology)

Last updated date : December 27, 2022

The word “NO” is one of the simple words in the English language. Moreover, a word that we learn from a very young age. Though it’s simple, it has the ability to make or influence a decision. It is very powerful. The meaning of saying no is either rejecting or refusing. When we say no to others, it like refusing them. Here comes the trouble of saying no. In other words, it is the need to please others.

We all have our choices as we are humans. We wouldn’t like to do everything another person does. Therefore, everyone in this world might have had trouble saying no, at least once in their lifetime. If you have trouble saying no, you are not alone. It is natural as we are taught to be kind and accepting from a very young age. However, we need to learn to say no because most of our decisions directly affect our lives. So, the simple word “no” can go a long way.

Red hair girl who has trouble saying no, analysing her past with a magnifying glass & journal

“Quizzes and recommendations were very uselful” Donna

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Chapter 1:

Is This a Weakness?

Since refusing something will directly or indirectly affect your life, saying no holds a lot of value. Refusing or accepting something is the first step to taking control of your life. So, yes. Trouble saying no is a weakness since you are losing the power to make decisions yourself. Therefore the decisions will be made for you by others or authorities. You feel guilty to say no although it is not what you truly want. You will put yourself in a position to do things that you wouldn’t do. Apart from you, others will realize it is a weakness too.

For an instance, if others find out that you have difficulty saying no, they will see you as an unreliable person. This is because they see you are not confident in your decisions. Imagine how this will affect your life in, long term? Your boss will take advantage of your willingness to work more. You will be pressured into doing things that your peers find cool. As a parent, you might end up spoiling the kids because you had trouble saying no to their request for toys. Do you really want to be that person? It will make you miserable. It is important to understand why you cannot say no and to work towards saying no, more often

Chapter 2:

Why You Have Trouble, Saying No?

  • Being put on the spot and you can’t think fast enough
  • Feeling guilty after saying no
  • Self-image – To appear brave and confident
  • Peer pressure
  • Want to avoid conflicts/ judgement
  • You owe a favor to them
  • Validation – to impress others/fit in
  • Afraid to hurt people’s feelings
  • Facing rejection before so now you are considerate
  • Lazy to make your own decisions
  • Going with the flow

Trouble saying no, stems from a lot of causes. Naturally, we are accommodating. We have to listen to our parents, teachers and even the law. So it is partly in us, to say yes or do something we don’t necessarily like. For an instance, we learn subjects we don’t like. It is compulsory to do them. We have no choice. So we are used to tolerating things. When there is an authority we can’t just say no. Still, if it is serious you have the right to discuss it. Saying no is a human right. If there are any concerns we can reject anything. some people misuse this right as well but there’s always a punishment for them.

Another reason why people have trouble saying no is that they like to help others. They see every opportunity as a chance to help. There is no issue here. However, there will be instances where people misuse their kindness. In addition, childhood trauma will have you saying yes most of the time. Punishing a kid when they refuse to eat or study, will make them develop this habit as a trauma response. Even as an adult, this trauma will make you fear saying no.

To understand your causes , it is important to be aware of your past and present too. This gives you a clear idea about how things might have played out in your life.

Chapter 3:

How to Avoid the Trouble Saying No

Delaying the response
This doesn’t mean ghosting the other person. This means to delay your response and take some time to think what you truly want. If thinking on your feet is not your cup of tea, or you do not want to face the awkward rejection, this is the best way to say no. Afterwards, you can response through an email or a text in a convincing manner. This method is very common in interviews where they give you the rejection through email. However don’t make the mistake of not responding at all like some companies do. People might hate you.
Explain your reasons
One thing we all hate is facing rejection without knowing any reason. May it be someone breaking up with us or getting fired. Considering this, it is best to explain why you are saying no to the other person so they get clarity. When you have mutual understanding nobody’s hurt and everyone can move on in peace.
Give them options
Most of the time a yes or no question isn’t harmful. It can be a simple invite to a party or a trip. Assume you aren’t interested in a particular invite because of the place or destination. Then you could simply suggest more venues. However, if you don’t want to do something at all, you can suggest some other people who would like to do it. If your boss is reluctant to accept your letter of resignation, make sure to recommend a few candidates suitable for the job. It’s easier that way and no one is let down.
Acknowledge their offer
Yes, you have every right to decline an offer from a movie invite to a job offer. However, it’s important to acknowledge the kind gesture from the people who made the offer. Make them heard and appreciate it. Thank them or send them a note. Offer them dinner as a gesture while still denying their offer. Honor whatever relationship you have with them and at the same time keep your boundaries. Unless someone is offering drugs that is of course.
Phrase it correctly
One thing you might be scared about is hurting the other person’s feelings. So, you have trouble saying no. You just might, if you reject an offer in a bad way. So, phrase it in a way that the message is clear but not rude. Mind your tone and body language too. Talk in a friendly manner if it’s informal. If it’s a professional setting be polite.
Be confident in yourself
If you want to start saying no, you need to be confident in your decision. Be specific and stern with your decision. Don’t make any room for any more negotiations or influence. Make a decision for yourself without thinking about the consequences. If you are on the brink about your choice there’s a chance it could be changed by others.

Chapter 4:

The Guilt Free Way

Some of us are a bit tougher on ourselves. We feel super guilty and anxious after saying no to something. So we have trouble saying no, no matter how politely it’s done. However, there are ways to say no without all of this guilt as well. They are simple and straight to the point. It’s also quick.
  • Make no, the default answer
  • Don’t postpone to answer how you really feel
  • Be honest about your reasons
  • Do not drag the conversation
  • Answer it quickly and clearly
  • Give options/recommendations ONLY if necessary

Chapter 5:

Saying No Is Necessary

There have been life-threatening instances where a simple no could have saved one’s life. This explains how important this word is and how it is essential to our day to day lives. Murders, rape and assault are some of the main events that happen when there is less control over one’s choices.

According to the USA Today, society portrays women as more friendly and easy to manipulate individuals. There is a higher chance of taking advantage of a woman’s inability to say no. Moreover, the double standard accepts the notion that women who stand up for themselves are aggressive and unladylike. There are many cases where women get stuck in abusive marriages just because a woman’s NO is invalidated by society. Even when there’s verbal refusal, women are likely to get abused. So, imagine if a woman is scared to refuse. It will give more power to the abuser.

Another instance where saying no is important is , peer pressure. We know. It can be hard to not give in to it because you don’t want to look lame. However , you need to be careful about what you get yourself into. For example, you can be pressured into joining a gang, doing drugs or breaking the law. Things like these will end up with you in prison or heavy fines.

Chapter 6:

Saying No, Will It Get You in Trouble?

Saying no isn’t a bad thing and it will not directly get you in any kind of trouble. However, the modern digital era is fighting hard for equality between the genders and for the safety of all on earth.

Therefore it is important to educate everyone about the consequences of not refusing. You must know these statistics and real-world cases so that you will understand how this behavior manifests in life.

"Quizzes and recommendations were very uselful" Donna

87 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount