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Struggle to Say "No"? 16 Phrases to Get You Going!


I hope that you had a wonderful Halloween! Today I’m going to talk about the scary topic of being able to say….. No. What do you do when someone has asked you to do something you don't want to do? How do you say no? What do you say?


Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast about burnout, and compassion fatigue. This NO concept really struck me during that podcast because there were two women and they were talking about compassion fatigue and caregiving. CF can happen when you’re really exhausted, burned out, cynical, maybe when you have a profession, or a life in general, where you're caring for other people. It could be nurses, it could be first line responders, it could be a caregiver for a parent - anyone who provides care.


Interestingly, they were laughing and joking, saying,


Oh my gosh, I sometimes I just think about, well, what would happen if I just got like a little bit sick, or like, I mean, just sick enough where I had to be in the hospital, or if I got in a little wreck just enough where I had to be in the hospital for just a little while. And then I just think about how nice it would be to be taken care of by someone else!! 😂


It's been a while since I thought something like that, and in that moment, I thought, Wow, that's terrible! A big part of that line of thought is living in this fast paced world, where there's so much going on.Your professional and your personal life might be more blurred now than ever before. Maybe you work at home now or there have been other significant changes in your life. For many, it seems life just keeps getting busier and busier and busier. But still, why is it so hard to just be able to turn down a request?


Some of that may stem back to childhood (don't go blame your parents! 😁). Also, please remember, this is not a substitute for therapy or counseling. We can all at least look back to our childhood and recall those times when we were told to be nice or to be helpful. I love being nice. I love being helpful. But if we're raised in that way, for our entire lives to be nice and be helpful and be nice and be helpful, it might contribute to your trouble saying no.


Other reasons? Maybe you're a people pleaser. Maybe you feel guilty when you say no to something. Maybe you don't want to disappoint other people. Maybe you want approval from everyone. Maybe you're just a super positive person and you want to be able to say yes, yes, yes, I can do that!! And, yes, I can do that too!! And you think that you can do it all. When it comes right down to it, you realize that you have way overcommitted. Those are just a few possible reasons. Now what do we do about it?


Here's a few tips to start, and then I am going to speedball bam bam bam the 16 phrases you can use to say no. The tips and tricks:


1. Know your priorities. It's really hard for you to decide what you're going to say yes and no to if you haven't taken time to really figure out what is important to you.


2. Practice saying no - practice, assertiveness, practice in safe environments. Get a friend to ask you - knowing full well you're going to say no- say, Hey, would you be willing to take me down to the grocery store real quick and hang out with me? I don't know why I chose that, but you practice one of our phrases that we're going to say If you've never heard yourself, say no before in an assertive, confident way, then it's going to feel weird. You don't want to say no to a major thing for your very first time.


3. Establish boundaries. We've probably all heard that word boundaries. Now it just seems like a cliche word. But a boundary does not mean that you are pushing people away from you. It means that you establish a line that you want to place between yourself and another person. And part of that is being able to say no.


4. Practice taking care of yourself. When you find yourself to be delightful, and worth taking care of, then you might realize that it's okay to say no!


And finally, 16 phrases to say no – here we go!

  1. I'm sorry, but I can't commit to this at the moment.

  2. I appreciate the opportunity, but I'm unable to take it on right now.

  3. I need to prioritize my existing workload or commitments or family time.

  4. Sadly, I have something else going on.

  5. I have another commitment.

  6. I wish I were able to.

  7. I'm afraid I can't.

  8. I just don't have the energy for that right now.

  9. I'm honored you asked me but it's simply can't.

  10. Thanks for asking me, however, I'm not able to.

  11. I'm sorry, I'm not able to fit this in.

  12. Unfortunately, I already have plans maybe next time.

  13. No, thank you, but it sounds lovely.


A quick interjection before 14-16. These come from Meryl Runion’s book PowerPhrases. In it, she teaches the AC T formula. It stands for:


Acknowledge: Thank you for asking

Circumstance: I’m already committed to

Transform: Thanks again for asking


Now, a few she put together for us:


14. I understand this is important my situation Is that at a perhaps next time?

15. (This is for your boss!) I know this is important. I'm working on XYZ. What can I put aside to make time to complete this?

16. I'm honored you asked after realizing the scope of what you need. I have to pass and I wish you so much success.


I hope you found this helpful! You may be thinking, Yeah, well, that sounds easy, but it’s not! I'm not saying it is easy, but it's so amazing to hear yourself speak up in an assertive way. Learning to say no enables you to have more time, more energy, and a greater sense of well being. No matter what happens on the other end, what the other person says, you are trying and for that, I give you loads of hugs. So get out there, say no when you need to, and take good care of yourself!

Love & Hugs!


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