Saying “No” Shows Respect

posted by Andrea | 06/22/2016
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saying no

Over the years, I’ve shared many posts about learning to say “no” to things, people, activities, events, and commitments that you don’t have a passion for, that you don’t have energy for, or that don’t align with your goals and dreams.

Obviously, we can’t just say “no” to anything we don’t feel like doing — especially when it comes to household related chores, family commitments, work obligations, etc. — but in general, I think we could all benefit from taking a quick step back and evaluating our current situation before saying “yes, yes, yes” to everything and every opportunity that comes our way (especially if it’s just to avoid feeling guilty).

Personally, I have benefited immensely from saying “no” to various activities, events, people, and other obligations — even if they are very good, even if I enjoy them, and even if they are a great income opportunity.

I have simplified and streamlined my schedule, I have made more time for the things, activities, and people that are more important to me at this point in my life, and I have learned a lot about myself, my values, and my personality by putting my foot down even when I’m getting a lot of pressure to say “yes” to certain things I know are not right for me, for my family, for my business, or for my life.

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Saying “no” is rarely fun or enjoyable for me as I naturally want to say yes to so many things (I’m sure many of you can relate). However, I have learned over and over again that when I feel like I can’t fit something else into my schedule, it’s ALWAYS better to just say “no” upfront and not give into the pressure to say “yes” — no matter how big of a guilt trip I get!

In my opinion, saying “no” upfront shows that I respect myself, my time, my prior commitments, and even the person or organization I’m saying “no” to. 

Did you catch that?

Saying “no” shows respect to, and for, the people I’m saying “no” to.

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Personally, there are few things more aggravating to me than when someone promises to do something or be somewhere at a certain time, only to show up an hour late or cancel at the last minute because they just don’t have the time.

I would rather have them tell me up-front, “no, sorry I don’t have time for that right now” than to try to squeeze me into their already too-full schedule and then cancel or change their plans at the last minute.

Not only does it make those people and organizations look very disorganized, very unprofessional, and very scattered, it also makes me feel like I’m not important to them, and like they don’t respect my time.

For example:

  • The heating and cooling company says, “yes, we’ll definitely come out some time next week” but we don’t hear from them until 2 weeks later.
  • The landscaping company says, “yes, we can squeeze you in next week” but then they’re too busy, and our project continues to get pushed back over and over again
  • The person buying something on Craigslist says, “yes, we’ll be there this afternoon” but they still haven’t shown up (or called) and it’s 8:30 at night.
  • The friend or neighbor says, “yes, we’ll pick you up at 9:30” but they don’t show up until 10:15 because they had other plans at 9:00 and were running late.
  • The restaurant says, “yes, we’ll have a table for you in 5-10 minutes” but you’re still waiting 30 minutes later.
  • The coworker who says, “yes, I can finish that project by the end of the week” but then leaves you scrambling to finish all the details yourself once they realize they haven’t prioritized the time to help you.

I could give many more examples — but I think you get the idea.

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Certainly, there are some legitimate reasons someone might have to change or cancel plans at the last minute — and that’s find with me. After all, life happens and no one is perfect!

However, it gets frustrating when the same people (or companies or organizations or groups) are late, need to change the plans at the last minute, or end up canceling over and over again.

It’s just disrespectful in my opinion.

So the next time you feel bad saying “no”, stop and remember that if you genuinely do not have the time, energy, or resources to follow through with the tasks being requested of you, it’s SO much better (especially in the long run) if you just say “no” upfront and move on.

Not only will you free up a bunch of your own time and alleviate your own stress, you’ll also show respect for the other person and their time (even if they are initially upset).

My hope is that by thinking of your “no” answer in terms of showing respect for the other party, it will be just a little easier for you to say “no”!

As I mentioned above, I don’t think we should use this as an excuse to say “no” whenever we don’t feel like doing something; but if you truly don’t feel you can follow through with a request, I’ve found that it is almost always better to state that right away.

In my opinion, saying “no” shows respect…

I’d love to hear what you think!

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21 comments

  1. Blog Roundup - June 2016 | Accountability Squad

    06/30/2016

    […] Saying “No” Shows Respect – Saying NO is a learned skill.  We all need to learn how to do it and understand that saying it is sometimes the most respectful thing we can do. […]

  2. Sarah

    06/23/2016

    I recently read a book called the best yes. The idea I took away from it that was so powerful was that when we say no to things that seem small or insignificant or not right for the season, it allows us to say yes to other things. I think I often say yes to things that aren’t my best and miss out on chances to say yes to even better opportunities.

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  3. Chris

    06/22/2016

    A few years ago a co-worker wanted me to stop doing my work to finish hers and I told her no. I think she was expecting me to automatically say yes because she had a look of disbelief when I said no. If I hadn’t told her no, I would have held resentment inside which is not healthy, plus my work would have been delayed and I know she wouldn’t have assisted me to get mine completed. I agree it is a sign of strength and respect for yourself to say no. I think women are natural people pleasers and worry what “people” will think. Not me. It’s the old advise-if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else.
    I have a problem with people who are chronically late-it’s selfish and inconsiderate.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know — sometimes it seems like people just expect us to say “yes” all the time without even thinking about it. When we say “no” it really catches them off guard. Glad you stood up for yourself and said no!

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  4. JoDi

    06/22/2016

    Totally agree! I would much rather have someone tell me they honestly can’t do something than promise to do it and not follow through.

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  5. Jennifer

    06/22/2016

    Andrea, this is so great! I’ve never thought of this aspect of why it’s important to say no when we really don’t have the time to do what is asked.

    I’ve learned that when I don’t say no to things that are not important to me in the season I’m in, I end up not being able to do the things I really need or want to do.

    Thanks for sharing this!

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  6. Debbie

    06/22/2016

    I so totally agree! I’m continually learning how to say “No”. Sometimes I say Yes because I feel bad that there’s nobody else that’s going to step up and help out. However, I also get tired of being the same person to be asked. By saying No I’m helping them to think outside the box and be more resourceful. I’m also learning that if my month is full of family related commitments, along with volunteering then all weekends are busy so the next month I’m going to need some downtime from all of it. I’m definitely an introvert, and need to see that I’ve taken some things off my To Do List .

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I’ve said “yes” MANY times because I know there isn’t anyone else to do it — and that’s OK sometimes. But I have also had to put my foot down and say a firm “NO, I don’t have time for that” plenty of times as well — even if it means the thing or project or good deed won’t get done. We can’t continually spread ourselves so thin to make others happy because then WE end up unhappy (and that means our family is unhappy).

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  7. Lee Cockrum

    06/22/2016

    Great post!! I am a person who tends to overextend myself, and then gets into trouble! Most of the time I REALLY want to be able to do it, and often would rather do the thing as compared to other things I MUST do. I think perhaps it would help me to even include that sort of explanation when I say “no”. “I’d really love to help you out, but I am overextended right now, and I know I would not do your task justice, and we would both be unhappy with the result.” Or I at least need to say this to myself in my mind before I say no, so that I understand it!!!

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    Jen T. Reply:

    No is a complete sentence. But often I will just tell the person to email me details and I can check with my family/calendar. It’s a lot easier to reply no to an email than in person/on the phone.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Love this Jen! it IS a complete sentence!

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  8. Susie

    06/22/2016

    I was hoping you were going to teach me how to say no to my kids- although I think you might have a couple post about it! I have the hardest time saying no to my kids, I tend to say yes then get mad because my life gets out of control! I am learning though!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’m not sure I even know how to do that very well, so I don’t think I’ll be offering my parenting advice on this any time soon. One thought though, I often try to say “yes” as often as I possibly can to my kids, so when I do say “no” they know I mean it. I talk more about this theory in this post: http://andreadekker.com/why-i-say-yes-to-toddlers/

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  9. Ann

    06/22/2016

    So well said! Thank you! This changes our “mindset” about saying NO!

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    Andrea Reply:

    you’re welcome! Hope it helps!!

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  10. Kim

    06/22/2016

    “Personally, there are few things more aggravating to me than when someone promises to do something or be somewhere at a certain time, only to show up an hour late or cancel at the last minute because they just don’t have the time.”

    This exactly. I so agree with your perspective on this. I am the responsible one and have been left holding the ball too many times when someone else drops it. It is okay to say no. It really is.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, yes, yes. us responsibl e ones are often left “holding the ball” — I know exactly what you mean!

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  11. Bonnie'sMama

    06/22/2016

    And a quote I read recently about the importance of saying no–

    Cut back/say “no” until there is peace in your home.

    Yet another good reason for some of us to say “No” more often.

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    Andrea Reply:

    ohhhh, I like this! Thanks Bonnie!

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  12. Liz

    06/22/2016

    When I read the title I thought you were going to talk about saying no to Nora, which you’ve spoken before about choosing your hill to die on. As a non-parent it is interesting to hear about you dealing with a headstrong daughter (who I strongly identify with…) 😉

    It is amazing how reframing ideas in your head makes it easier to change your response. Rather than “I don’t want to let them down by saying no” it becomes “I don’t want to let them down by failing to do what they need/want”.

    Thank you Andrea 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes. I think “headstrong” is an understatement when it comes to describing Nora 🙂 But, I’m told it will benefit her in the long-run!

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