Its Ok To Say No

The Art of putting your foot down without being aggressive on people

Plenty of times, we happen to be busy with our lives, attending to our own business when a relative, a friend, aart of saying no colleague or a neighbour approaches us asking for a favour; hesitant to hurt others’ feelings, along with the kindness born of a woman’s heart, we accept such additional responsibilities along with our own and complete the task of helping them out.

It has happened to me and it has happened to you and we just say yes even though we long to say no to them! In the process, we waste a lot of our own time, money or energy on the others.

We could have used the time spent on the others to complete another task of ours. We could have used the time to take a bite of food, to wash a bit of clothing, to do the left-over shopping, to help out with the home work of our children or even to take a well-deserved nap in the noon. However, we have decided to keep the people around us happy, thereby getting hurt in the process!

Recently, I have decided that enough is more than enough and there is nothing wrong in being a wee bit selfish, doing my own stuff first, taking care of my family, my work and well, you got my point!

I have resolved that I am going to change and well, I had started changing. I did a lot of soul-searching, prioritized my priorities, accepted the loss of a few selfish people, was pleasantly surprised by the unexpectedly helping hands from the others, was happy to have found time for myself, and had spent a bit of money on myself too. It felt good to be on my own for a change than to be bogged down by the burden of the others’ tasks.

It’s of course, a slow process of change, but change it is nevertheless and a positive one at that! The following tips shall help you in helping you to say No when you want to say No to them all, Period!

You see, these tactics can be extended to your own family as well. From to time, even our own family takes advantages of us making use of our emotional bonding with them; they start ordering us around on things. Doing things willingly for the family is what women are famous for, but being manipulated into doing things is quite un-called for, even by your own family.


1. Get to know your inner-self first: You should analyze the reason for your being so accommodative to all and Its OK to say Nosundry and for your not being able to say “No” to the world. Knowing the reason may help you to come out of this dilemma in a better way. For ex: If you are being so nice to people simply because your parents are being so, realizing the underlying reason shall help you to control your actions.

You can not copy your parents all through your life. Their demands on time, their circumstances, their age factor, their phase of living may entirely be different from yours. You need to live your life according to the demands on your time, your circumstances, your family issues etc.

2. Be positively negative: Be firm in saying no to people. No should mean a negative no and not a “may be” no to the people. A firm “No” will make them to take their issues elsewhere and not wait for you to accommodate them as usual!

3. Don’t play the guilty game with yourself: If you are firm in saying no to the others, be firm with yourself for having said so. Don’t start having second thoughts or start feeling guilty of not rushing into helping some one as you usually do. There is a limit for everything and your limit is at present and now!

4. Be firm, but not aggressive in saying No: You have always been a nice person and that’s why you are being sought after for help by all and sundry. Fair enough. Now, say no nicely too! You could even sandwich your No in between a few Yeses.

You may start by saying that you are more than willing to help them on their tasks. However, you won’t be able to, due to unavoidable reasons. Be quite firm, but not aggressive in saying that no!

5. Start asking for help from them: Two people can play the same helping game. You may start asking for help and support from people who usually seek help from you. When they approach you for help, you may tell them that even you were thinking of asking for their help, as you are hard-up for time, finances etc.


Q. I have always been a sucker for requests on help from a lot of people. Many a times I feel like refusing, don't say yes when you want to say nobut unable to bring myself to do so. In the process, my own work and sometimes, even my health and relationships have suffered. I just don’t know how to get rid of this life long habit of being a ‘nice person’ to all! Can you help me on this?

A life-long habit of being a nice person to all can not be changed in a few tries. Just go ahead and try some more. Start in small measures and stop being too nice to the others.

Spoiling of your own health and relationship is not worthy of any help given to any one. You should consider this on a serious note and should start becoming a bit selfish. Take care of your own self, tasks and requirements. If required, start asking help from the others. You will soon be able to segregate the really good people who care for you and the opportunists. You shouldn’t be bothered about the later in anyway.

Smita’s Advice

There is nothing wrong in being helpful to the others. However, if it starts affecting your work, your time, your finances, your peace of mind etc. you should put your feet down on such supportive causes. Just be careful not to be aggressive on the others.

“Sometimes you have to put your foot down to get a leg up.”

- David Weinbaum, Writer and Businessman

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