Saying No, It’s Only Being Assertive.

Saying No.

Saying No, can be challenging for some.

“Darling, I know you have been up since 4 this morning but would you take the rubbish out, mend the fence and after dinner – do the dishes. 

Don’t forget I want you in tip top condition, so we will go for a 45 minute run.  And then I want you to make sweat passionate love to me. 

Umm; I think that’s about all, but I will let you know if anything else comes up”.

The above statement is ridiculous.  Do you feel obligated to say, ‘yes’ when people make a request?  Is it possible that you are asking too much of yourselves when attempting to please everyone around you?

If the answer is yes, then rub your hands together and roll up your sleeves.  Here is an area where you need to focus your attention on your own behaviour.  The hard work is just about to begin.

The practice of being assertive and saying, ‘no’ is about to begin.  We will also look at asking for your own needs to be fulfilled.  Identifying these areas is the easy part.  Putting this into action is where it gets a little murky.

How do you know that it is you that requires change?

If you feel anger or resentment while doing what has been asked of you, then NO should have been the answer.  Performing these actions with a negative mind is a half-hearted attempt.  Why would you even go to the effort to do something at 50%?

The reason ‘NO’ was not an option is because it has been assumed the person will feel a particular emotion.  Generally sad, mad or bad.  Saying, “no” is nothing personal.  It’s a response that says; at this particular moment, whatever you are asking of me, does not suit.

We can’t be responsible for the attitudes or emotions of others.  Initially being assertive will feel like a challenge.  You are about to ask for your needs to be met.  You have no idea how the person at the end of the request will respond.

The outcomes can be:

  • Having your request accepted.
  • Questioning your request.
  • Getting angry at your request.
  • Declining your request.
  • A compromise is negotiated.

All this can be achieved in a diplomatic or tactful manner.  Gaining confidence in this area frees you from feeling fear or guilt by wanting your own needs met.  Self-assurance develops with repeated practice.

When you start your assertive transformation, begin with small steps.  An example:  Try the individuals who are looking for donations.  They attempt to stop you by initiating conversation.  As you walk past they are friendly and ask questions with a motivation to get you to put your hand into your purse or wallet.

These people have been taught strategies to close in on you.  If you always seem to get caught up with them.  Attempt putting your hand in the air to highlight ‘stop’.  And even say, “I am busy” or “in a hurry”.  Keep walking.  How did you feel?

After you have declined their offer, they just went onto the next person and tried exactly the same strategy.

Another approach they use to target you when you are four to six meters away is, waving their hand in your direction.  A very powerful tactic.  Attempting to obligate you before you even get to them.  It’s hard to say, “I’m busy” or “don’t have the time” from that distance.

Assertive can be steered in another direction.

You have made a request.  However the individual does not answer to your needs.  They steer the conversation into another subject.  A normal human response in this situation is to bring up the past.

When another person attempts to change the subject, it’s avoidance.  Reminding you of some action you previously did.  This does not address the initial request.

When this occurs, pay attention but don’t get caught up in what they are saying.  This is very important.

Allow them time to air their grievances.  But when it is your turn for dialogue, go back to your request.  All you are doing is managing the conversation.

Saying No, can lead to conflict.

Saying No, can lead to conflict.

When saying no can lead to conflict.

Being assertive at times can lead to conflict.  But you don’t need to feel pressured by someone else’s anger.

Believe it or not – when the yelling begins you get time to think.  Anger rises to a peak and then runs out of steam.  When anger is at its highest, it is generally irrational.

Stand firm in what you want to address.  When you get your moment to talk, remind them of the initial discussion.

You can even go as far as saying, ‘you’re happy to discuss their points once your request is out the way’.  Don’t get distracted, defensive or even attempt an answer to this diversion.

You will be shocked when you learn that when someone is yelling; it gives you time to think.  It is rather an unusual event.  There is a lot of noise. However if you don’t get caught up in what the other person is saying or you have no intention of responding because you won’t be steered off track, it gives you a couple of seconds to collect yourself.  That is all you need.

You will be shocked when you learn that when someone is yelling; it gives you time to think. Click To Tweet

The only time being assertive becomes problematic is if you are in danger of physical harm.  If this is the case, assertive is not the main concern, there are other pressing issues.

Reflection and Dissection.

Becoming assertive is about planning.  If you are a non-assertive person, it goes without saying that you must be surrounded by people you can practice on.

One tool I strongly advice getting better at is reflection and dissection.  It certainly is possible to change without reviewing a situation.  However reflection is like the ace card in a hand where you have got absolutely nothing.  It changes the whole the situation.

  • What was your approach – when assertive was your motivation?
  • How did the individual response to your request?
  • How did you handle the response?
  • Did you appreciate the outcome?
  • How could you have done it better?
  • What would you change next time?

By asking the above questions you are dissecting the outcome.  A situation you entered into may seem like you have done everything wrong.  However when you reflect and dissect you start to see just how many things you did right.  Even though it was not a good outcome.

When being assertive can get you into trouble:-

  • Asking strangers or people you have just met for sex. This could get your face slapped.
  • You attempt to talk your way out of a speeding ticket. All is going well until you offer the cop a cash bribe. This can change from a small fine to larger issues.

Choosing your wars.  Make sure the battle is for you.  You don’t have to assert your position in every instance.  In all relationships there is a give and take in compromise.

When should you be assertive? 

That is entirely up to you.  However if you can imagine yourself doing the request begrudgingly or it feels too much like a burden – declining should be considered.

Many years ago, I had an employer who was emotionally strung.  When he laughed you heard it, when he yelled it echoed throughout the building.  I had seen some of the most well-mannered, professionally sound and tough men/woman leave his office diminished.

On one occasion my task was to type a document for him.  Over a two day period the file had been passed back and forth, from him to I over a dozen times.  I completed my task and returned the file immediately.

I then carried on with the rest of my responsibilities.  Then he requests the file.  I explained that I no longer had it.  His response was to firmly tell me that I did.  I had a very organized fail safe work flow.  I had used this method for years.

However he is an unpredictable boss and I am desperate to be wrong.  I go back and double checked my routine.  Even checking illogical areas – hoping the file would appear.

I then have to face my toughest challenge.  I mentally prepare myself.  I go into the office.  It was unnerving to tell the boss that I didn’t have the file.

But as John Wayne says, courage is knowing you are scared and saddling up anyway.  Sure enough he exploded into fits of verbal abuse.  Carrying on like a raving lunatic.  I had no choice but to stand there.

This boss had that old school attitude where he was comfortable with being unreasonably demanding and authoritarian.

As John Wayne says, courage is knowing you are scared and saddling up anyway. Click To Tweet

Work continued and after a couple of days, I looked up from my work and he was standing at my desk.  I knew it was about the file, I thought I was in for more trouble.

Generally when he wanted my attention he would phone his secretary to get me to go into his office, or he would just holler my name, even that depended on his moods.

I sigh deeply and wait.  Then he tells he has found the file.  And walks away.  First I am overcome with relief and shock.  Then I wanted to celebrate this very small win.  I was never going to get the words, ‘I am sorry’.  He acknowledged his error and that was enough for me.

In my situation saying no was not only honest but there was no other alternative.  I knew his temper.  I prepared for the outcome.  While I had to sit through a period of difficulty, the end outcome floored me.

The point is; being assertive can be a challenge and feel uncomfortable at times.

Being assertive is a practice to be harnessed.  We really can’t go about our lives doing what we feel is the right thing, at the sake of our own sanity and happiness.

Initially it will feel difficult, but we are worthy of leading our lives our own way without saying, ‘yes’ all the time. There’ll be times we do things we don’t want to and other times we are so grateful that we did say, ‘no’.  Being assertive is freeing yourself from the shackles of obligation that you pinned on yourself.

Being assertive is freeing yourself from the shackles of obligation that you have pinned on yourself. Click To Tweet

If you took something away with you from this post, maybe others can too – how bout tapping the share button?

Posted in Behaviour, Change, Self Development and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. Hi Rachel,

    I am glad to hear that you stood up to your boss. It can be very unnerving, but many times in life we have to stand up and face the storm because the other options are not worth considering (like quitting from your job because of a misplaced file)

    Being assertive is really difficult. Many people just don’t like conflict and because of this they allow themselves to be foot mats and pushover all the time. But if you really want to achieve peace of mind, you have to be assertive in certain cases. The trick is knowing when to be assertive and when to overlook an issue.

    Saying “No” is not a bad thing but it should be said at the right times.
    Chioma Anozie recently posted…The Secret Sauce of Instant SuccessMy Profile

    • Hey Chioma,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I agree with you, who likes conflict? – but the alternative of being a door mat is not an option either. Facing the boss was nothing more than character building and a fine story now.

      And choosing our wars is a very valuable tool to access as well. We would be weary if we went into every battle. As for the saying no, some people find it hard to say it and other people find it tough to accept – have you noticed that? And that is all I am chasing Chioma – peace of mind, the world can do as it pleases, but a balanced mind gives me clarity. Big smiles at you for your presence on my blog. Talk soon.

  2. Your beginning lines clearly sets up the background of the whole post. We must raise our voice against all the oppressions. Until and unless, we don’t take a stand of making self decisions, people don’t care about us. By saying “no”, we have the control over the circumstances. We don’t get anything by nodding the head everytime.
    Thanks for sharing your boss story. You must be feeling great when he told you he found the file. Wonderful feeling, isn’t?
    When someone yells at us, it definitely gives us time to think about the whole event in a clear manner. In this chaotic zone, we can collect our thoughts properly.
    Thanks for sharing this important topic with all of us, Rachel. Have a great day, ahead 🙂
    Yatin Khulbe recently posted…How to Find Inner Peace and Happiness: Interchores GuideMy Profile

    • Hey Yatin,

      Thanks for the visit and the comments. I love the line you wrote ‘we must raise our voice against all the oppression’. Great way of putting it. We should never nod our head at everything, but we must know what war to fight – don’t you think?

      I was a very happy person when the boss told me he had found the file, it was such a win, I wanted to do a dance and celebrate. It was like a moment of glory. I will never forget it.

      In that chaotic zone you talk of, it tells me you have had your fair share of yelling moments. But it is odd, it is like the adrenaline is buzzing throughout the body but the mind has a little clarity – such an odd feeling. You sound wise beyond your time. Thanks for taking the time for the comments. Talk soon.

  3. Hey Rachel,

    Glad you were able to be firm with your boss. sometimes you just have to grin and bear it, the only thing you can do is prepare yourself for the consequences.

    Being assertive is a tricky thing. People turn into yes men because they want to be a people pleaser and don’t want conflict.

    But you have to stand up when too much is being asked of you. And at that point you can’t let someone else’s emotions or reactions cause you to cave. Many people will try to make you feel bad about saying no but you just have to remember why you’re doing it.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…Why You Have to Stop Judging Others to Make a BreakthroughMy Profile

    • Hey Lea,

      I thought I would hear from you on the weekend (big smile), thanks for returning, you know I enjoy your outlook. The boss was so many years ago, I actually enjoy the memory of the situation more than I did at the time. When I think back to his behaviour and how he treated people (I cringe, I really could never lead like that – under any circumstance I could not even begin to justify that kind of behaviour). Old school habits, people really do just embarrass themselves. It really shows areas of great insecurity and where work lies for them.

      You are correct about it being tricky – there have been times where I have said yes, because I knew the outcome would be conflict and I did not have the energy to deal with it at the time. Some people used to zap me with energy or taking it from me. Now I have tools in place not to allow this to happen.

      And it can be tiresome fighting every war. Yeah people do try and emotionally blackmail us when they don’t like ‘no’, years of practise have taught me to not take it on. Could you imagine taking on everyone else’s requests at the sake of your own time and projects. Great discussion, talk soon.

  4. Hi, Rachel
    Glad I have the opportunity to read this post about “assertive”.
    It is not easy to say “No” to people because we want to help and we want people to say that we are “nice” in our human nature. But we must learn to say “no” otherwise we are not able to get things done. We may throw our “time management” out through the window. We must master the skill in saying “No” to a degree that we will not offend any people or get ourselves into trouble.
    Thanks for sharing your idea. Will tweet it now. – Stella

    • Hey Stella,

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting. I think once we learn to appreciate who we are and what our time means to us, we are not burdened by saying no.
      When we don’t feel guilt or fear about it, we can be gentle with our approach. I agree with you; we want to help people, but we certainly are not helping people if we are saying yes to things we don’t want to do, or feel the pinch with time restraints. It is a tricky one isn’t it? But honesty with ourselves and with those around us is key to living a happy and generous life. Talk soon.

  5. Some people believe that saying no is rude, uncaring, selfish. I think that being a ‘Yes Guy’ affects our lives generally. Instead of standing up for ourselves, we let others walk over us, becoming pushovers and perennial people pleasers. I know saying ‘NO’ can be difficult, but overcoming that difficulty is what makes the difference. Then again, i also think that being able to say “No” to others successfully is a combination of the right attitude, the right actions, and the right words.

    Cool blog Rachel & thanks for sharing. Totally enjoyed reading 🙂
    Emeka recently posted…The real change we all have been looking forMy Profile

    • Hey Emeka

      I agree with everything you say. It sounds as though you really have a handle on being aware of your own needs. I think first we have to become comfortable with saying no, without fear or regret. It is only then that we are able to say it with confidence. Where people arent offended by NO or us asking for our needs to be met.

      When people take our NO’s as rude, uncaring or selfish, it means that are not respecting our right to make decisions based on our own needs. That is when it becomes tricky.

      A yes guy is just scared of the outcome. Could you imagine how they feel, always feeling this obligation of yes? It must really shake them up.

      You attitude is very endearing, I enjoyed you insight. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I look forward to further conversations and I will give your blog my attention in a couple of days. Talk soon.

    • Hey Aarti

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for leaving such positive feedback. It will make work just as hard on my next posts. I always enjoy new comers, it makes me so excited. Mind you everyone is new as this blog is only eight weeks old.

      My main objective was to share old lessons from the past, that shaped my life and forced me to make stands for myself, regardless of the outcomes. Sometimes dealing with others is a little scary, other times is an amazing experience. But we are always learning from our interactions with others. I am grateful for you visit, hope to see you soon.

      I will visit your blog in a couple of days, as I am always keen to see what my commenters are up to. Talk soon.

  6. Hi, Rachel,

    This is my first visit to your blog, and I’m glad I came. 🙂

    I’m probably considered an assertive person by most of my family, the people who know me best. However, the longer I live, the more I understand the power in waiting until emotions have cooled before reacting to something I feel strongly about.

    Everyone makes mistakes but no one should have to feel like that on a continual basis – I probably would have said, “Apology accepted!…” as he walked away! Would have probably gotten myself fired too. LOL

    Great food for thought, thanks for sharing.

    Hope you have a great rest of the day.

    Carol Amato
    Carol Amato recently posted…10 Best (and Legitimate) Work-at-Home JobsMy Profile

    • Hey Carol

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting.

      I like that you are known as assertive, it cuts out a lot of the crap people play (whether they are conscious of it or not). Choosing when to express yourself is such a wonderful tool. But being both assertive and having the wisdom to know when to approach an issue makes you a very approachable person and I bet your family appreciate it – well most times anyway.

      My big smile was automatic once I read your “apology accepted” cheeky and fast witted at the same time. I was very young when this incident occurred so being shocked and yet delighted left me speechless at the time.
      However I have many war stories that have left me without a job and I would never have called it being assertive. If I can direct you to my post that will give you the full details on my journey – LOL. Talk soon.

    • Hey Ashutosh,

      Thanks for the visit.

      It would have been wonderful to know how craziness overloaded in your mind. Not sure what that means, but I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog and leave a message.

      Talk soon.


  7. Hello Rachel,

    What a thought evoking post this was? Awesome write up. I read it twice to digest all the important points you covered here.

    It’s one of the hardest things to do at times….saying NO. I’ve had massive difficulties doing so and it has often landed me in unwanted situations.

    I am learning to positively say NO…which as you mentioned ‘without creating conflict’. But sometimes the situation requires us to take a strong stance, like you did when you stood up for yourself to your boss. That’s the hardest many people struggle with.

    Thank you for writing such an insightful post. Off to share it now:)

    Wish you a great week Rachel.

    • Hey Hema,

      Thanks for the visit.

      I too have said yes because no was too difficult and we really dread our obligation and we get angry with ourselves.

      However there are situations that we are placed in where NO is no and regardless of what happens we must back ourselves. Nobody wants to argue but sometimes we have no choice at all. When this happens I stand firm, that does not mean I am comfortable, but I am sure of where I stand.

      It is great to hear that you are learning to say NO positively. Because it just means you are meeting your own needs first and how can that be selfish. Good luck with it Hema – say no until you are comfortable with it, it is healthier for everyone. I enjoyed your honesty.

      Talk soon.


  8. This post reminds me of some of the things I’ve learned from Nonviolent Communication (which I’m not at all connected with; I just think the info it presents is sound, enough to even write a whole blog series on). Good for you for encouraging others to look out for themselves and be assertive like this! And hooray for standing up to your boss, too!

    • Hey Lisa,

      Non violent communication is the way to go. Speaking your mind in order to get what you deserve or at least attempt to get a balance. That is what I am advocate of. I think we have a whole lot of people smiling but don’t feel that on the inside that is why I wrote this piece.

      I was not aware there was such teachings. But glad there is. Thanks for the great idea about a series, will have a good hard think about that. Thanks for you comments.


  9. This article is great – it really highlights why you should say no. I never thought about the fact that you probably should have said no if you are doing some with anger and resentment but that probably is the case. I will try to keep this in mind in the future. I don’t typically have a problem saying no 🙂

    • Hey Shannon,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I am like you I am comfortable with No (Now), it certainly lightens the load. However sometimes we don’t even think about what we are agreeing too. We do it on auto pilot. And when we feel a negative emotion because of it, it could be that it has nothing to do with being assertive or not, it was simply committing to something we did not think about carefully.


  10. You have very beautifully enumerated the difficulties we all have in saying no when we mean it. We are conditioned to being door mats and pushovers so that we are the eternal nice guy. Thanks for highlighting the importance of being assertive and the pitfalls that one can come across while doing so

    • Hey Bellybyted

      Most of us have to go through being a door mat at one stage or another. Others become the Yes person not because they are uncomfortable with no, but because they are unaware – just performing on auto pilot. We fall into routines and habits and before we know it we are committing to situations we did not necessarily want to do, but did not think about.

      Us humans are unpredictable in our thought patterns due to our emotions. So saying no can be easy some days and hard others, also the response to the no can be managed differently on each day according to our moods. Thanks for your comments.


  11. I definitely need to work on being assertive myself. Although, when conflict happens, and shouting happens, I cannot think very well at all. I am too emotional and can’t think clearly. I need to find someway to get over that.

    But, I love your last sentence: “Being assertive is freeing yourself from the shackles of obligations that you have pinned on yourself.” So true.

    • Hey Betsy,

      Its great you are aware of how you respond in these circumstances. Having this awareness highlights the exact area where you need to do a little bit of self development. Changing from uncomfortable to comfortable is a work in progress, but being insightful to where work is required, well that is first step.

      You are more than welcome to contact me to discuss and reflect on the last time you were placed in a situation where saying no was required. It really can be exciting breaking down, these circumstances by putting them under the spotlight.


  12. I needed to read this post. I have such a hard time saying no to people. I understand the reasons that you give for saying no, but it is hard to put into practice. I am glad that you stood up to your boss. Being assertive seems to have worked.

    • Hey Shelah,

      Being aware that you struggle with saying no is a great place to start. It also means we are surrounded by people close to us that we can practice saying no to. You can even discuss the idea of being assertive with everyone around you. Tell them when the time is right you are going to practice ‘NO’ on them. That is one of many strategies we can use when we are looking for change. Thanks for your comments.


  13. Thank you for sharing your story and advice. Saying no can be such a challenge, but you are right, it is necessary to keep our sanity. I needed a reminder.

    • Hey Erin,

      Our lives are so busy that sometimes we just agree to everything because we forget we have a choice. Saying no is a challenge, but life presents us with plenty of opportunity to practice. Thanks for your comments.


  14. Saying NO is a hard lesson to learn, for me anyways. I used to always overextend myself but I would always get the task done. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the saying “if you want it done right ask a busy person”. It is so true because someone who is busy makes sure it is done right the first time so they don’t have to do it again, but at the same time it adds so much stress to our lives that we need to learn to take a step back before we answer a request with yes. Saying no has saved my sanity! Thanks for sharing, this post has a lot of great advice.

    • Hey Laura,

      When we over extend ourselves, we get busy and caught up amongst the whirlwind of obligation. I am a great believer when you have a reputation for completing tasks and managing well, people tend to lean a little more. Sometimes because they see it as a strength, other times it is because you are known as reliable. But there are limits to how much we want our put ourselves out there because we want enough time to fit in time for ourselves. Thanks for your comments.


  15. Interesting! It is hard for me to say no sometimes – I like to please people. However, I will often remind myself that if I say yes to “xyz” it means I am saying NO to something else – that can make it easier to gracefully decline.

    • Hey Pam,

      Sounds like you have calendar stored in your mind. Being able to recognise when dates, activities or engagements collide. Gracefully passing over a ‘no’ is a wonderful way of sending out verbal messages. Graceful stands for, being comfortable with handing over the information your about to. I enjoyed your comment and style. Rachel.

  16. We have to know our own limitations. Being able to say no is as important to our mental health as eating right is to our physical health. Great post. I love the story about your boss. I think we all have similar stories.

    • Hey Stacy,

      I could not agree with you more, saying no is as important to our mental health as eating to our physical health. But sometimes we are so caught up in our lives, that we don’t even realise what we are committing to. Before we know it we are obligated by all these yes duties and we get annoyed.

      I wrote about this story because I am sure most people have been placed under similar pressure in the past. Feel free to share your experience with me if you like. Thanks for your comments.


  17. So often it is so hard to say no, but we have to realize out own limitations. I like how you pointed out that you do nit need to be assertive every time. That we each know when we need to. As I get older it has become easier for me, and hope others will take your tips in to consideration.

    • Hey Haley,

      Saying No came in stages for me. I said no really fast the first couple of times, because I was nervous, then other situations I had to do a bit of explaining and uncomfortably verbally danced around the topic of no. Other times I got long winded with my reasons for No. Sometimes it even came out aggressive, because I was a little anxious. Now it is just no because at this point in time it does not suit me and that now sits easy with me. Thanks for your comments.


  18. Oh I don’t miss the days of having a boss who lost everything and made me look like the dumb one. Saying no is such a powerful, healthy thing. Thanks for digging deeper and helping others see the power of the word.

    • Hey Leilani,

      Sounds as though you were in the middle of someone else’s pickle and had to take responsibility for other people’s decisions and actions. That can be really tough and soul destroying for a while. But knowing where the errors lie is a extraordinarily insightful. Thanks for your comments.


  19. Say “no” is difficult for me, but I’m working on it. Sticking up for myself or giving people news that I know they will not be happy about can be tough, but it’s something I definitely need to get better at.

    • Hey Suzanna,

      What a great comment. Pat yourself on the back for acknowledging that saying no and sticking up for yourself can be stressful, but you value yourself enough to take yourself outside of your comfort zone to improve. Great work. Let me know if you want to break down any component and discuss it. Thanks for your comments. Talk soon.


    • Hey Monica,

      What a very honest answer and being aware that this area is where you require some work is a great place to start. Change doesn’t happen over night, so you will find it tough for a while but the struggle is worth it Monica. First it may stress you out but you feel relief after stress. Let me know if you want to delve into it a bit more. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Monica,

      Being assertive can be tough, but challenge yourself to say it enough times that you are no longer uncomfortable with it (times will always arise for you to practice). Being aware is the first exciting yet daunting step you will ever take when attempting change. Let me know if there is any that we can discuss to lighten the load. Good luck on your mission.


  20. What a great post! I am learning to say ‘no’ more often. It can be so hard, but at the same time, being walked all over doesn’t work either! I will have to keep coming back here as a good reminder!

    • Hey Leila,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Sometimes we get caught up in yes because that is what we do. It is only when we think about it and then see areas where we should have said no. I agree with you initially saying no can be hard and create a lot of stress however you could very well be surprised at the response. Talk soon.


  21. It is not good when you are a yes person but is actually harder in my opinion than saying no. The yes seems to have more of a long term affect.

    • Hey Dana,

      Saying yes does commit us to obligation. We don’t want too many yes duties that we don’t enjoy. But we will always know when we have said yes when we should have said no – because we do it with negative emotions. Thanks for your comments.


  22. You wrote an excellent post about an important topic. I like the John Wayne quote you threw in–what an awkward situation with your boss!

    Thanks for the overview on being assertive when necessary!

    • Hey Lisa,

      You nailed it in your final sentence Lisa – being assertive when necessary. First we must master saying ‘no’ and some of the situations that can create.

      The boss situation was many moons ago and now a great story to emphasis the assertive point. Thanks for your comments.


  23. I agree – it is SO important to be able to say NO to sometimes. I used to have the same problem of saying yes all the time to everybody. It was wearing on me and my marriage. Now I can say no to something without feeling badly about myself.

    • Hey Jennifer,

      Great place to be Jennifer, when saying No is just a part of the conversation and not an emotional attachment. You nailed it when you say it was wearing on me and my marriage. That is over stretching our capacity. When this happens it is like we are placed in a corner where we are forced to say no in some instances. Every time we exercise this right, we become a little more empowered. We don’t over burden ourselves and we get on with our regular routine. Thanks for your comments.


  24. I do not know how to say NO and to make matters worse I usually feel obligate to do whatever I am asked of whether it be at work and not only do I go out of my way but would often ignore my own needs to finish something I am asked to to.
    To say I need help in this department is an understatement. Yes I need to practice and open my lips to say NO

    • Hey Myriam,

      What an awareness. It is only when we can see that there is an area of our life we need to work on; that is when change can begin. By the sounds of it you are the go to person who is reliable but also someone with a reputation for taking it all on. So how will you first prepare for your No? You are more than welcome to contact me and we can hash out a few strategies out.

      The reason this is an urgent matter for you is because you are ignoring your own needs to finish something for someone else. We have to be able to perform at a high capacity to get everything done throughout our day and if you have no time for you, because yes is all everyone will hear, you are on your way to burnout.

      If you want to explore this further Myriam, let me know and we can do it together. Thanks for your honesty.


    • Hey Shannon,

      What I got from your message is there are many avenues for you to say NO and the least scariest are via email or text. We all have to step away from saying No guilt free – that is when we know we are at the right place and accepting our own times tables. Then when we say yes we are being genuine. Thanks for your comments.


  25. This is a post that many people will benefit from. Myself is included in that statement. I have certain people in my life who make it hard to say NO to. However, because I’m NOT saying NO to them I’m hurting myself and my business that I’m trying to run smoothly.

    Thank you for these words of encouragement to stand up for myself.

    • Hey Crystal,

      You make a very good point. Some people are difficult to say ‘no’ to. But they are the ones you get to practice on when the time is right for you to say ‘no’ because the time is NOT right for you to participate in their request. Good luck, you automatically know who you need to prepare for. Thanks for your comments.


  26. Sounds like you handled your boss well as you did not back down, but you did not engage or escalate either. He could learn a lot from the benefits of reward-based, positive training- I know I have. I often expect too much from myself and others, and have been working on communication and management skills. I have also been working on saying “no” when I just do not have the bandwidth. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Talent Hounds,

      The boss was a story from years past. He has no emotional attachment now – but a great story to back up my points. But thanks for the added insight, that I did not engage or escalate it either.

      Reward based positive training sounds interesting. I would like to know more about it. But if that is where you get your strength from keep that up. I am always impressed by other people who invest in self development. It is so rewarding and beneficial now and in the long run. Thanks for you comments.


    • Hey Bex,

      When we do something for someone else with grudges or resentment we know next time to think about what we are committing to. With practice we get better at it. Thanks for your comments.


  27. I believe there is a fine balance to being both polite and assertive. It’s a balance that most people unfortunately don’t seem to have nowadays. Upon first meeting me, I think people mistakenly believe that because I am nice, that I must be a pushover. But I am not. Oh no, not at all. 🙂 I will firmly stand my ground whenever I believe I’m being treated wrongly.

    However, it is important to choose your battles carefully. This is also something I think many people don’t understand the balance on – ESPECIALLY in things like marriage (which is what I blog a lot about). There are times to let things go and do them even if you don’t want to for the betterment of a relationship – and then there are times to be assertive and stand your ground. It’s all about figuring out that balance.

    I am assertive enough to say that I don’t think I need help in being assertive :), but I also recognize that other people are human too and just because I am denying a request of theirs does not mean I must do so cold-heartedly. After all, I’ve been on the asking end before and I appreciate kindness in rejection too.

    • Hey Ronni,

      I feel what you are saying that people often mistaken kindness for being a push over. I get that myself. I let them dance until it no longer suits me. I also agree about striking a balance between being nice and being assertive. However while I was practising being assertive, I have come across as aggressive, nervous, even hesitant. But I was only placing myself in the situation refusing as best I could. Until I got better at it.

      Marriage is about compromise and team work and when we get our heads around the idea that our partners aren’t the enemies and we don’t need to compete especially when emotions are raw, we serve ourselves and our special mate so much better.

      Big smile, I can read the strength through your words that you don’t need help being assertive and you do it comfortably. Thanks for the comments.


  28. What a great reminder about giving yourself the permission to say no to people. I struggled with that for many years. I think that practice, and time, helps a lot. One of the things I used to tell my children is that it takes two people to have an argument. If you do not engage with the other person, their anger will run out of steam and you will be able to have a discussion (hopefully!) Great article, thanks!

    • Hey Linda,

      I agree, it does take two people to have an argument. We can get caught up in it, or let the other person have their say and then wait for an opportunity to speak. When anger is at its peak, it is generally irrational, fortunately that peak does not last long at all, so if we can bare the brunt of it, we will have the other person listening once their anger has run its cause.

      I am thrilled that you understand with plenty of time to practise being assertive, we can get comfortable with saying ‘no’. Sounds like your kids have a very wise mum. Thanks for your comments.


  29. Great points. If you say yes to everything and everyone, you won’t be able to do anything well. Saying no is important just as saying yes is. We have to find the right balance of what we can do well and what we need to let go of.

    • Hey Julie,

      Could not agree with you more, finding a healthy balance helps everyone. When we say, ‘no’, nobody is doing anything they don’t enjoy and you are not pushed for time or over extending yourself. Although sometimes with our lives spinning at such a fast pace we even have to say no to things we enjoy. Thanks for your comments.


  30. I especially like the part about how when people start yelling, it can give you time to think. I often fall into the trap of yelling back, but now I will try to stand my ground and think rationally about what my next response will be.

    • Hey Miranda,

      I can’t express how odd a feeling it is when you are clear you are not going to get caught up in an argument and someone is going for it. Its loud but it certainly gives you time to think.

      Big smile at your honesty, ‘I often fall into the trap of yelling back’. Oh I still do and I really know the benefits of not yelling back. Both of us nothing more than human. Let me know how it goes when you try it. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Brittney,

      Sounds like you have a healthy awareness of where your boundaries are. Generally we don’t say no because we are feeling spiteful or nasty, it is because our time tables don’t allow us. But plenty of people will still say yes because they don’t know how to say no. But that certainly does not sound like you at all.

      I agree with you, it is so important to choose our battles, it is an energy and time saver. Thanks for your comments.


  31. This is a great post and helpful since I fall in the category of people pleaser. I am learning to say no sometimes because I can’t please everyone.

    • Hey Heather,

      How exciting Heather that you are working on an area that is not one of your strengths. An admirable quality in anyone is to dedicate time and effort to an area where we feel we need to increase our confidence. Let me know if you want to hash anything out. I am all for the progress in self development. Thanks for your comments.


  32. I used to be so timid and such a people pleaser I just couldn’t say no. As I grew older and (thankfully) matured I was able to become more assertive but how I wish I had come across this post years ago. This is definitely something I can share and I think this is a good post for young people or people still finding their identity and who they are.

    • Hey Lerie,

      I think we all go through a period of being the door mat, people pleaser and find it hard to say no. Because we do like to do things for people, that comes naturally. But as the years go by, we get plenty of time to practice. Because we know when we should have said ‘no’ because doing something begrudgingly does eat at us.

      Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Erin,

      Still to this day, there are times when saying no has me wobbly – but I can do it now wobbly or not. Practice makes perfect Erin, keep at it – being better than you used to be, is amazing progress – so pat yourself on the back. Thanks for your comments.


  33. I love that you highlighted the benefits of assertiveness as it can also go by other names when people are inappropriately labeling. I am definitely assertive and while I try to respect others feelings, I do want mine to be heard and understood. It’s a fine line and dance between crossing over to “aggressive”. Say what you want; nicely and firmly.

    • Hey C.Lee

      I agree with you totally about sharing your thoughts and the fine line between assertive and aggressive. And that line is what people cross over back and forth when they are learning to be assertive. When making an conscious choice to attempt to be assertive it can come across as aggressive, hesitant and even frightened, initially. Because it is only when we practice that we become comfortable with saying no in a non aggressive manner.

      I like what you say, “Say what you want; nicely and firmly”. I believe any truth can be told with the right tone. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Tina,

      I like reading what you said, “it was really hard at one point”. You are talking in the past tense so that means you feel better about saying, “no” now. That’s great. Thanks for your comments.


  34. You made some excellent points! I have trouble saying no when I should and I end up feeling overwhelmed and resentful. As you said, if we’re stretched so thin by over-commitment or only half-hearted in our attempts, what is the point anyway? Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Hey Sara,

      The very reason I had to change Yes to No was I too was feeling resentful and taken advantage of. I have had plenty of practice and even now I sometimes feel the pressure. But I feel the pressure more when I am alone and telling myself that I should have said no. So that is my key motivator now – I don’t want to be cross with myself.

      Keep going Sara, it does get easier and the more comfortable you become with no – people see it so they don’t generally attempt to negotiate a no. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Catrina,

      Sounds like you know exactly where you have to strengthen No. While it may be a little daunting, these authority figures will present themselves time and time again until you become comfortable. That we can be sure of. Let me know if you want to go over a few strategies. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey Melissa,

      Mums have had years of being the authority figures and forget that they teach us to use our own minds. They have been in charge and responsible for us for long periods of time. However our family can be our greatest of challenges and if communication is open we have to assert ourselves and sometimes not just once. Thanks for your comments.


  35. I’ve become so much better at saying no, especially after I constantly felt like my family was taking advantage of me or just expecting me to be able to do whatever they had in mind. When it came to things being passed off to me with no concern for my schedule I’d had enough and now they all know to ask.

    • Hey Sophie,

      Sometimes our family underestimate us or are blind to their own actions. They presented an opportunity for you to practice your No skill. And by the sound of it when you started on your NO journey they changed from expectation to consideration. The outcome was positive. Great work. Thanks for the comments.


  36. Good for you. I am a very quiet, reserved sort of person and love serving people. So when I got married, it was only natural of me to want to please my better half and make him happy. So I would say “whatever you want, honey” or “yes” all. the. time. He knew me so much better than I knew myself so he finally asked me to quit being so “fake.” At first, I was angry that he would think I wasn’t being real with him, but eventually I knew he was right. He wanted me to say, “Let’s go to McDonald’s” instead of “Whatever you want” and he wanted to hear me say “no” sometimes. In this way, I was being transparent with him and we could be more on the same page! Thanks for bringing up this very important issue.

    • Hey Christy,

      I read your comments yesterday and did not get the opportunity to send a response but you did have me thinking. A very quiet and reserved person may not voice all their opinions, but I have many a friend like yourself and they are the thinkers. You are the people I seek out.

      What a great team you and your husband are. Isn’t he wonderful for bring you back to balance. I am like you, I love to serve, but being a door mat no longer applies to my situation. However it did.

      I never would say you were being fake, but I would say you were people pleasing to the point of ripping yourself off. However you hubby was having none of that. Thanks for your comments.


    • Hey TJ,

      It sure is okay to say no and even feel comfortable with it. Thanks for your comments, I am glad you enjoyed the read.


  37. As a “conflict avoider” saying no is difficult for me, but I’m getting better. I think the hard part is not letting what others think get to you. Great article!

    • Hey Marie,

      Oh conflict can be an energy drainer, but sometimes unavoidable. I am so pleased that you are getting better at saying, ‘no’.

      The one thing life is sure to throw at us is opportunity to say, ‘no’ so there will be heaps of opportunity for practice. If I am over thinking about what others say – I reverse that and investigate what I think of the situation, because that far more useful and relevant to me. Thanks for your comments.


  38. Saying “no” has taken me a long time to be able to say. There are still times that I find myself agreeing to something that I know will cause me stress or resentment but I feel this immense sense of guilt or obligation. These are a lot less frequent as I get older but still a work in progress.

    • Hey Rebecca,

      Saying, ‘no’ is not attempting to hurt or displease someone, it is actually acknowledging that your capacity at the time of the request is at its peak or just simply does not suit.

      When I first started practising No, I would speak really fast, sometimes get it wrong, other times appear aggressive or harsh. All this was because I felt nervous. As time went on I got better at it, but more to the point, I got comfortable with saying, no and that was worth all the uncomfortable situations I faced.

      Big smile when you say – still a work in progress – I see that in every area of my life, because I am one who enjoys progress, self improvement and change. Thanks for your comments.


  39. Saying No is something I struggle with. I will often agree to do something and then regret it later or feel aggravated while doing it. I definitely need to start saying No more often!

    • Hey Crystal,

      Struggle is nothing more than a hurdle yet to be jumped. Acknowledging the difficulty is the starting gates for change. I too was in the same situation. Over extending myself and agreeing to situations only to feel angered. I then used as my spring board for change. Oh I felt so uncomfortable initially, I have a load of stories I can share with you, but now after much practise – no comes easy.

      Let me know if you want to break down a few previous situations to make a plan for the next time you have an opportunity to say, ‘no’. Thanks for your comments.


  40. I’m not normally assertive so when I am I think people who know me are thrown off. It may be read as being a B****. I’m working on a balance so that I’m assertive a little more often.

    • Hey Nikky,

      Sounds like you have an element of surprise when you are able to assert yourself. That’s great you are working on assertive, once we become comfortable with saying what we need to say others start to understand that we are only meeting our own needs. Thanks for your comments.


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