5 ways to challenge yourself to say no

It has been well-documented that women find it hard to say no.

One thing I know from speaking to and coaching women is that the inability to say no can have a negative impact on our relationships, our well-being, our careers, our levels of creative fun and our personal fulfillment.

Many of us have been raised directly or indirectly to be good girls, to always be available, to lend a hand.

Of course we all like to contribute to other people in ways that support them, but in doing so it is incredibly important that this is not at the loss of our own well- being and experience of life for long periods of time.

Signs that we are doing too much include exhaustion, anxiety, resentment, anger, apathy, resignation, constant complaining and waking up dreaming of getting back to bed again.

In her book The Power of Vulnerability, Brene Brown talks about feeling uncomfortable versus resentment.

Would you rather be uncomfortable for a few minutes or resentful for a few days, months, years?


Kemi Nekvapil

Here are 5 lighthearted ways to say no

  1. “I would love to make the gluten-free, paleo, vegan, sugar-free, biodynamic, egg-free meringues for the school fair, but I am unable to this time. Thank you for thinking of me though.” Note: Walk away briskly if you need to before you back down.


  1. “Although I would like to take on another project, in my part-time role with full-time hours, there is no way I can give it the attention it deserves, unless you can arrange for two of my current projects to be given to someone else, shift my caring responsibilities at home and make all my meals (one can only live on toast for so long), I am unable to help.”


  1. “Thank you very much for asking if you could ‘pick my brain’ for an hour over coffee. Unfortunately, at this time of the year, I have no brain left, but please bring me as much coffee as you can and then leave.”


  1. “I have thoroughly enjoyed hosting eighteen members of the family at my house for our yearly gatherings over the last three years, but I am going to Hawaii this year for the whole month to work with orphaned cucumbers; they need me as much as I need them. “


  1. “ No. No. No. No. Noooooooooooooo. Noooooooooo.” Note: This has more impact while giving a death stare and shaking your head furiously. If you can muster froth this works too.


Saying no can be lighthearted, we can use humour to make it easier on us and the person we are saying no to, as long as it remains a clear no.

 Whenever we are asked to do more than we are already doing, we are able to:

  • Defer: Ask to be asked at a later time.
  • Elevate: Suggest someone else who we truly believe would love to do the job.
  • Take time: Get back to them the next day, when we have had time to take an honest look at your calendar.
  • Counter-offer: “I can not make the meringues, but I can bring a fruit plate; would that help?”
  • Be honest; I am already committed to a few things at the moment I want to do my best with those, so I am unable to say yes. Thank you for thinking of me though.

I challenge you to say no today. You will be amazed how the world keeps turning, you will still have friends, you will still have a job and you will have more space to say yes to what really matters to you. (Of course, if making the gluten-free, paleo, vegan, sugar-free, biodynamic, egg-free meringues for the school fair is what matters to you, you should not say no to that, you should say no to something else so that you can say yes to that.)

Saying no is a practice many of us have to learn; it is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

Kemi Nekvapil's annual event Flourish is focused on women empowering themselves to move from surviving life to thriving in life. Join the event here.



@keminekvapil A fabulous post and saying no can be challenging at times. I love the list you've shared Kemi.

Thank you  DebSinclair, saying no is definitely a challenge as you have said, it does take courage, and practice. I am glad you enjoyed the list. Have a beautiful weekend Deb.

This is great @keminekvapil. You're spot on when you say that a lot of use were taught to be there for people and help as much as possible. I'm currentlly juggling full time work, a double degree and parenthood and I'm learning several ways of saying no without feeling as guilty as I did in the past. 


Hello thequickbrownfox, I am glad to hear that you learning to put your sainity first! It does take time for the guilt to fade, but we are so much better in all areas of our lives when we are not spread too thinly. I wish you a beautiful week.