The Productive Woman 008 – Saying No Gracefully [podcast]

_podcastTemplateDo you find it difficult to say no? I do. The desire to be liked or the sincere desire to help makes it easy to say yes, and sometimes we end up regretting it.

Listener Kelly Anne Liberto asked a question about this that got me to thinking, and in this episode I share some of what I learned in researching why we say yes, when it's okay to say no, and how we can say no without sacrificing relationships that matter to us.

Tip of the Week: Make good use of waiting time to tackle tiny tasks.

Tool of the Week: Bank apps for the smart phone! An amazing tool that lets you move money around, pay bills, and even deposit checks right on your phone. Most banks and credit unions have them these days, and I encourage you to give this tool a try if you're not already using it.

Topic of the Week: Saying No Gracefully

Why do we say yes?

  • We want to help
  • We want to be liked
  • To avoid conflict or confrontation
  • It feels good to be needed
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • We have an unrealistic idea of what we can take on
  • Guilt – we feel like if we can, we should
  • It feels selfish to say no
  • We succumb to pressure

Good reasons to say yes?

  • Because we want to — we're truly enthusiastic about the opportunity
  • We've carefully evaluated it and it lines up with our values, objectives, and goals
  • To serve someone we care about

Why is it okay to say no?

  • It gives somebody else an opportunity to contribute
  • The ability to say a purposeful no is necessary for our yes to have any meaning

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” ~ Gandhi

  • Sometimes saying yes would overtax your health, your time, your family
  • Saying no to some things (even good things) leaves room for better things
  • Your time is just as valuable as the time of the person who asks

Deciding whether to say yes or no

  • Don't give a reflex answer.
  • Weigh your options and limitations and get back to the asker.

We need to be okay with the fact that to some extent will cause some level of “pain” for the asker (but there are ways to minimize that)

Ways to minimize the damage of our no

  • Be certain of your answer
  • Be respectful of the person who asked
  • Show kindness and compassion
  • Give an explanation or reason if possible — but don't get drawn into a debate. You don't have to justify your no.
  • Make sure if you say you're going to call them later, you actually do it
  • If necessary, practice saying no in front of a mirror until you can do it in a way that's kind but firm


Saying No Gracefully,” by Isadora Alman, MFT,, July 13, 2010.

How to Say ‘No' Gracefully,” by Beth Levine,

Saying No Gracefully,” by Lisa Kovalovich, Ladies Home Journal online.

How to Graciously Say ‘No',”

Learn to Say No,”

The Halfhearted Yes: Why We Don't Say No and How to Start,” by Sonya Derian on

Why So Many People Just Can't Say No,” by Hank Davis, Psychology Today online, March 10, 2014.

7 Simple Ways to Say No,” by Celestine Chua, Zen Habits, August 3, 2010.

When to Say Yes and When to Say No,” Jill Kemerer blog, August 11, 2014  — great insight for people of faith.


What about you? When is it hard for you to say no? Do you have a suggestion for a solution or approach that I missed? Please share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments.


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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
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