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How to say no {when you’re a serial people pleaser}

Fat Mum Slim /

I’m a people-pleaser. I find it hard to say no. I was at my worst in my 20s when I actually could not get the words no to come out of my mouth. For some that might sound insane, for others they might be thinking, “Holy smokes! That’s me! I can’t say no either!”

Saying ‘no’ shouldn’t be so hard should it? Not being able to mutter that word means that we’re often putting ourselves at the bottom of the list, and fulfilling everyone’s needs except our own. It’s exhausting, often causes resent and it’s just disappointing {for yourself}. On the other hand, people like you because they think you’re awesome {little do they know that you actually wanted to say no!}. People do love yes people {but they wouldn’t love that you’re doing so reluctantly!}.

I’m better at it now, but not brilliant. It’s something I’ll always be working on, I think. I’ll probably be in a nursing home, and someone will ask me to the prune the garden and I’ll say ‘yes’ even though all I really want to do is play bingo.

I wrote in my newsletter a fortnight ago about the issue of not being able to say no, and asked if anyone had any advice… and there was some good stuff. Most of it was the same advice just wrapped up differently. It surprised me that people who appeared strong and ballsy to me, still had trouble saying no. It’s a common thing.

Here’s how to say no:

♥ Your immediate response to anyone should never be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You need to create distance and give yourself room to properly decide. You need to create a default response that you can immediately say in order to save you thinking, and instantly agreeing to something you don’t want to do. It could be, “That sounds great. Let me check my diary and get back to you” or “Thanks for asking, I’m not quite sure what my plans are for that day, let me check and come back to you soon”.

♥ For me, saying “NO” seems harsh and off-putting, and potentially upsetting to your friend or family member. So figure out a way to say no that doesn’t seem too brash. A simple, “I would have loved to, but I just can’t make it happen” is perfect. You don’t need to over explain. Do you recall moments where people have said ‘no’ to you? Was it upsetting? Maybe fleetingly, but you didn’t need it wrapped in ribbon and sprinkled with fairy dust, did you?

♥ Use the form of communication that makes you most comfortable. If you’re on your training wheels {i.e. new to the no game} do whatever you need to do to convey your message. It’s OK to do it in text, email, over the phone, by Facebook messenger, or carrier pigeon. Choose what suits you.

♥ Take away any guilt associated with it. This is the hardest thing to do, but I think it will come with time. I recently said to my husband, “Why don’t you feel bad for saying no to people?” And he simply said, “I do, but it passes quickly. I have my priorities which is my family and that’s who I put first”.

♥ And if you have a hard time deciding what should be a no and what should be a yes, here’s a trick I’ve been using: Run it through a filter. I do a values ‘thing’ where I work out what my values are. Mine are: Family Happiness, My Health & Self-Achievement. When someone asks me to do something, I’ll ask myself “Is it good for my family? Will it improve or take-away from my health? Will it add to my sense of achievement?” If it hits a big no for all of those, it’s out.

And if all else fails, a friend sent me this. It’s a bit cheeky and comes with a language warning, but it made me laugh… and that’s an awesome thing!

Do you have trouble saying no?

Or maybe you’re awesome at it, and you have tips to share… please do!