Learning to say no: 18 power tips for saying “no” with confidence

Learning to say no

Do you often do things that you don’t really feel like doing? And only because other people have asked (or urged) you to do it?

This is how it is for many people..

Saying no is one of the most important things you can do if you want to live a self-determined and happy life.

Want to learn to just say what you really think?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I’ll show you how to say no without a guilty conscience. I’ll tell you how to set healthy boundaries that are NOT selfish, but serve as self-protection for you…

Danger: Not saying no harms you

If you can’t say no, then you have many disadvantages in life.

To name just a few:

  • You always try to please everyone. You neglect your own needs and put yourself at the back of the pack
  • You are often overloaded, overwhelmed and tired because you let yourself be burdened with too many tasks
  • You are not respected because you say "amen" to everything and everyone, you are always available and you always let yourself be pushed around
  • You do not respect yourself because you are too cowardly to say no
  • You think you are only liked when you are useful to others. This leads to low self-esteem
  • You cannot assert yourself. This can cause disadvantages in the job, but also in relationships
  • You are being taken advantage of in many cases and feel like a victim

Why saying no is so hard for you


Even as children we were taught that we should be helpful.

And this is good up to a point. Everyone likes to help out now and then. It’s fun and often rewarded.

But there comes a point when helping out and doing favors all the time becomes unhealthy. The point at which we sacrifice ourselves and put ourselves at the back of the queue. And it is at this point that we must learn to say no.

But this is hard for most people to do.

And there are many reasons for this. Knowing these reasons is ESSENTIAL to learn to say no more easily. Here come the most important reasons why you can’t say no and what you should do about it:

1. Fear of negative reactions

When you turn down a request, some people react badly. Maybe they blame you for making them angry or disappointed. Maybe they criticize you for it. Maybe they even say you are selfish.

That sparks guilt in you that you’d like to avoid. That’s why you tend to say YES, even though you’re screaming NO inside. Because you don’t like conflicts and avoid them whenever possible. You also like to live up to other people’s expectations.

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2. Fear of negative consequences

Many people say YES because they are afraid of losing something otherwise.

The partner, a friend or even the job.

Especially at work, many people feel that saying "NO" is an absolute no-go. We might otherwise come across as lazy or incompetent. Or let our colleagues down.

Fact: With a "no" you usually gain more than you lose.

3. Fear of rejection

The fear of not being liked is huge in many people. It comes – like so many other things – from childhood. Most children only learn and believe they are liked when they are useful and always help out.

Therefore you try to do as much as possible to be liked. If they feel they are not liked, they think they just have to do more. Then you will like them already.

Reality is: It often does not work that way! Such people are liked especially because they do all the work for you. But with genuine liking or. Respect has little to do with it.

4. Beware of the helper syndrome

As just addressed: People love to feel useful. Being used.

This desire to be useful is normal up to a point.

The whole thing gets bad for you if you overdo it and fall into helper syndrome. People with helper syndrome ONLY feel good when they can help someone all the time. If they don’t, they feel useless and worthless.

5. You are a FOMO candidate

Fomo comes from English and means Fear of missing out. In German: "Angst zu verpassen etwas" (fear of missing out).

Many people say "yes" to something just to have been there. Even though they didn’t really feel like it.

Because they’re afraid of missing out if they don’t participate. Or that someone else is then asked and in the end has quite a lot of fun (which you actually could have had yourself").

FOMO canditates can’t skip a date, an event, or even anything. You have to be everywhere.

Learning to say no: make it easy for yourself with these 13 power tips

Saying no with confidence

Saying no can be liberating like nothing else. Especially if you’ve rarely dared to do this before.

The mindset from before will help you a lot. But probably they are not enough yet.

You get the necessary rest now. After looking at the following tips, you’re guaranteed to be able to say no with much more ease, good conscience and confidence. And you will feel great afterwards.

Therefore, let’s get started right away:

1. Dancing monkey or respect?

Most people think that if they say YES to everything, they will be liked and accepted.

Up to a certain point, it is welcome and appropriate to step in and do the bidding of others.

However, if you are always available at all times and jump up as soon as someone asks you to do something, you will end up looking stupid.

Cause that’s not how you get recognition. And no respect either. Much more you then become the dancing monkey that everyone likes to take advantage of. Because if you always have time and jump in for others, you lose value for other people.

This is why it’s hugely important to set boundaries. That gives you real respect.

2. Saying yes is EXPENSIVE

If you unintentionally say yes and amen to everything, you pay an unpleasant price.

You need to realize this, mega important! Here are some examples of what this prize can look like for you:

  • extra stress because you’re having new tasks thrown at you
  • Anger at yourself for giving in again (weakens your self-image)
  • Unpleasant feeling of being taken advantage of
  • less energy for yourself and other people and things that mean much more to you

Does this mean that you should always say no to everything on principle, because everyone wants to take advantage of you anyway??

It is said: An unwanted YES usually costs you more than a No. Then why is it so difficult to say no?

Because you are unsure whether you can and should say no. And, because you are used to saying YES rather than NO. Because this way you can avoid conflicts and frictions.

3. The decision timer

Requests and pleas often come in between and suddenly. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle and have something imposed or forced on us that can take us hours or even days to do.

Here’s what you can do about it:

Take a few minutes or even longer before accepting a questionable request. Sleep a night over it, if necessary. Don’t let a decision be forced on you in a hurry.

Part of the person with: "Give me a few minutes / hours / a day to think about it, then I’ll let you know."

These questions will help you decide if you want to help or not:

  • Who asks me for the favor? What meaning has this person for me?
  • What is his request about? What to do?
  • Do I really want to do this or is everything inside me resisting??
  • How much time / desire / power I have right now?
  • What do I have to put on the back burner when I comply with this request??
  • How often have I done something for this person?

4. Feeding VS Eating

Do you know those people who always take from you (eat) but never give anything (feed)??

Feeding is no fun with people like this. Before you do someone a favor, you can ask yourself:

"Is this person a constant taker or does he sometimes give too?"

5. You’re worth your weight in gold

As you may have realized yourself, you are unhappy when you put your own needs at the very back of your mind.

Many people with helper syndrome have forgotten their own value.

They don’t value their time and boundaries. You think other concerns are almost always more important, than their own.

6. Exposing Puppet Masters

Often people manipulate you into saying "yes". Probably you often do not even notice it.

How can you tell? A good indicator is: you feel bad and uncomfortable somehow.

What you can do about it? Expose the manipulation techniques and address them openly.

Forms of manipulation:

  • Flattery:"You’re always so super good at xy, why don’t you be nice and do that for me?. / Be so kind and…"
  • Guilt: "If you don’t do xy, I’m lost. Without you I’m screwed. I can’t do this without you. Just don’t leave me hanging, or I’ll feel bad."
  • Blackmail:"If you don’t do xy, you will have xy consequences from it!"
  • Victimhood:"I absolutely need you. Help me, I can’t do it. No one else can help me. I just can’t do it alone."

7. Stay tough& STAY HAPPY

If you suddenly start saying no, there’s one thing you should expect:

This will irritate people who know you from before. They are not used to getting no’s from you. They need to get used to you saying no to things first.

They will probably continue to besiege you with their usual strategies at first. Z.B. Stay persistent. Or burden you with guilt. Or do what they used to get you around with.

8. Be gentle, be good

People who used to say "YES" nicely to everything often run into a new problem:

They realize that they have allowed themselves to be taken advantage of and suddenly aggressively say NO to everything on principle. They think every single supplicant is evil and just wants to take advantage of them. That’s not true of course.

That’s why you don’t need to angrily yell "NO" at people either. Say it calmly and relaxed. Without justifying yourself.

9. At work: a partial no

This tip is especially helpful in the working world. Because you can’t always slap a hard "no" on the table at work.

If you think a no is inappropriate, give a partial no:

  1. Offer an alternative:"You can’t do that now. But ask Peter / I can’t do it now, later or tomorrow / I can do part of the task, but not all of it."
  2. Describe negative consequences:"If I do this now, then I can’t finish the other task properly and that creates xy problems" / I’m not qualified to do that, xy could do better."

10. IMPORTANT: Do not be a stuttering boy

If you refuse a request, express yourself confidently and clearly. Many people act shy and insecure here and say things like:

"Ehm maybe…, possibly…, actually it’s like, hmmm…, I’m totally sorry, but…, please don’t be mad at me, but…, I’d love to, but…"

These expressions come from a desire not to hurt the other person. Or out of their own discomfort to express a no. This stuttering, however, makes you look very unsure of yourself.

My recommendation to you: Stop it. Stop telling white lies. Saying things directly and not stuttering around anymore is liberating like nothing else!

11. The back-slapping no

This No is for the particularly stubborn supplicants who cannot understand a simple No.

If someone can’t stop badgering you, be as clear as you can be:

"Tell me, don’t you hear right, you stressed-out kid?? / No one ever taught you what a no means? / Are you so pushy to all people (you stupid bird)? / Are you obtuse?"

Granted: With this kind of no you have to judge well when you can bring it. Do that, if at all, rather rarely. But when it really has to be, then that can do damn good.

12. The mirror technique

This tip is especially strong.

How well can you handle it when someone tells YOU "no"??

Can you accept this? Are you offended? Disappointed? Feel that the other person is selfish and inconsiderate? Because he does not want to do what you asked him to do?

If so, it’s no wonder that you don’t dare to say no yourself.

For we ourselves almost always infer from ourselves to others. We often can’t say no BECAUSE we ourselves freak out when we hear no.

13. Mind power is THE key

Wrong thoughts keep you from saying no like almost nothing else. To act confidently, you must first think confidently.

Here I show you the mindsets that keep you weak. Some of them were already mentioned in the article. But for the sake of completeness I list them here again:

  • If I say no now, he’ll never help me again
  • If I say no, he rejects me
  • If I say no, it’s my fault he’s disappointed
  • When I say no, I’m heartless
  • If I say no, I am selfish

Recognize such thoughts and replace them with ones that strengthen you:

  • I don’t know if he will never help me again. Sometimes he helps me, sometimes not. Sometimes I help him, sometimes I don’t.
  • I don’t know if he will reject me or react badly. If he only likes me when I dance to his tune, then I sh** on him
  • I don’t know if he’s disappointed or upset when I say no. He can accept my no. If he’s disappointed, that’s his problem. I just speak my mind. He deals with it as he wants.
  • I’m not heartless after all when I say no. I have a right to take care of myself and my needs. And follow my inner voice.
  • When I say no, am I really being selfish? And honestly: Everybody has to think of himself and has a healthy form of egoism. Nobody acts 100% selfless.

Conclusion: how you go on now

That was a long article! Congratulations on making it this far.

You now know how to say no more easily. Without guilt. And you know you have every right to do so!

Saying no more often will massively boost your confidence and self-esteem. Trust me. Have fun!

By the way: If this article helped you, I guarantee you’ll love my newsletter.

There you will get my best, most effective and at the same time most entertaining inspirations and tips on how to say no with a new self-confidence& you can go through every single day with much more joy. Sign up for it now below:


First of all thank you that I was allowed to read this! It’s really helped me a lot. I want to learn not to be so "good-natured" anymore!! Cause I’ve often felt taken advantage of, by a friend and other people.

You’re welcome Jasmin&

Learning to say no is very important in my life. You save yourself some problems. Thank you for the good article and nice greetings from Osnabruck

Thanks for the good article. Yes, many people have a hard time saying "no.
"Formula of my happiness: a yes, a no, a straight line, a goal."Friedrich Nietzsche
Greetings from Osnabruck

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