5 Positive Reasons for Saying ‘No’

Sometimes saying no means protecting your own well-being - and sometimes it means saying 'yes' to something else.

Nov 11, 2015
Happy woman talking on phone

Saying 'no' can feel great - if you know how to do it right (Shutterstock) 

It consists of just two little letters, but the word ‘no’ can have a big impact on your relationships with others - and with yourself. Too much ‘no’ and you can isolate yourself, creating a negative persona, and miss out on opportunities. Too little ‘no’ and you might overbook your schedule and bring on too much stress in the process. Finding a balance between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is key, but that equilibrium can only exist if you’re able to see both the positive and negative sides of saying ‘no.’

It’s easy to see the downside of saying ‘no’: It might hurt others’ feelings. It might create distance between you and your loved ones. It might leave you feeling guilty or regretful. It might limit opportunities. But there’s much more to ‘no’ than just negativity. Saying ‘no’ can actually have a very positive influence on your life.

Here are some of the reasons ‘no’ can be a positive act that will lead to more personal fulfillment and better interactions with others.

1. SAYING ‘NO’ MEANS YOU VALUE YOUR TIME

Saying ‘no’ is the best tool you have for distancing yourself from negative people or situations. Remind yourself how valuable your time is, and you’re less likely to hesitate when it comes to saying ‘no’ to something you really don’t want to do. Saying ‘no’ requires a strong sense of self, and in the end it will reinforce your emotional well-being.

2. SAYING ‘NO’ CAN BE A BRAVE ACT

‘No’ can be difficult to say without hedging or including an explanation. You might say, “I’ll have to think about it…” or “I’m not sure, maybe…” These phrases not only confuse others (is that a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?), but also dilute your own certainty about what you want. Consider each time you say ‘no’, without a hedge or explanation, to be a brave act of self-respect.

3. SAYING ‘NO’ MEANS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

Rather than immediately responding to a question or a request, take time to ask yourself, "What do I really want?" Sometimes, for various reasons, we have to do things we don’t want to do. But if you find yourself constantly saying ‘yes’ even when you don't want to, you should consider your own needs. You may build up resentment, which can damage relationships.

4. SAYING ‘NO’ MEANS STANDING YOUR GROUND

Some people won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They’ll urge you, cajole you, and come up with all kinds of creative solutions to make you say ‘yes’. When encountering won’t-take-no types, stand your ground and repeat your initial response. If you find yourself wavering, recall the reasons you chose to say ‘no’ in the first place and consider how good you’ll feel if you remain true to yourself. You’ll find this fortitude carries over into other areas of your life.

5. SAYING ‘NO’ IS SOMETIMES SAYING ‘YES’

Every time you say ‘no’ to one thing, you’re saying ‘yes’ to something else. ‘No’ means freeing up your time (and, in some cases, your emotional bandwidth) to engage in other, perhaps more positive, activities. If you feel badly for turning someone down, reframe your response, offering to do something another time that you want to do.

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