How To Say “No” To Something


When you don’t want to agree to an idea, plan, or system, or something, you should feel comfortable saying no. A lot of people lie when they don’t want to say no because this makes them feel protected but that’s almost never necessary. There are lot of different circumstances where straight up saying no is the best, ranging from frivolous to very serious. Sex is an example of something that is serious. Or genocide, or prejudice. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are things like canceling dinner plans, or walking home when you were offered a ride simply because you’d rather enjoy the weather / exercise. In many cases, people don’t want to say no because they don’t want to disappoint the person they are rejecting, but we should all remember that rejection is subjective and following your heart is always more important. Sometimes it can be exciting to say yes to something that you’d initially wanted to say no to, and this can be good for self-growth and life experience, but each situation needs to be assessed differently, or rather, honestly.

Let’s start with something common: your friend wants to hang out with you but you don’t feel like it. Why don’t you feel like it? Is it because you are lazy, sick, tired, depressed, or anti-social? Any of these are perfectly understandable. After you come home from school or work, on a cold rainy day maybe, as soon as you make eye contact with your sweatpants it’s over. Avoiding inertia can be extremely difficult and make the idea of traveling across the city feel like a migraine. The idea of spending time with your friend should realistically override the pain of traveling across the city, but sometimes it just doesn’t. It’s okay to take some time for yourself, but we’re a social communal species and we can add a lot of value to each other’s lives if we chill together. An alternative to saying “no” could be inviting your friend to come over to your house instead so that you wouldn’t have to move. (If you do this too many times then you might ruin your desirability.)

Feeling lazy is not the same as feeling sick. Depending on the illness, maybe hanging out with your friend could be really therapeutic. If you are worried about being contagious, tell your friend and they will probably hear how sick you are in your voice or something. If you are just feeling a little “under the weather” then you could invite your friend over again. Whatever you do, you shouldn’t over-exaggerate because humans are very perceptive and can usually sense when another human is being dishonest. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to say no. If your friend is a very pushy person and you know this already, you might feel tempted to lie so that they won’t try to persuade you. That’s lame. Real friends aren’t afraid to be mean to each other because real friends are actually more like siblings than strangers. No doesn’t have to be taken personally.

If you are feeling tired maybe you could drink some coffee or take a quick nap beforehand. Once you get going you will stop feeling tired. If you start to fall asleep when you are hanging out with your friend, they might just let you sleep at their house, or help you get home to your own bed and you might have a nice journey together.

If you are depressed it might be hard to tell. Depressed people have a hard time doing anything so it could just feel normal to you that every plausible fate seems too mundane or complicated or impossible to pursue. Life doesn’t have to be this way. You should go talk to someone about this. But the big question is: how can you muster up the momentum to talk to a doctor if you can’t even talk to your friend? Yeah, it’s a horrible cycle. Know that there is a way out of it and that there are people who want to help you create a positive lifestyle and you deserve it, and you won’t relapse, and whenever you’re ready it’s yours.

Anti-social behavior can be a good indication of one’s mental health so that might just be something to think about.

Another common problem is pressure sales. Salespeople don’t want you to say no because that is like, the main part of their job. They are characteristically very talented at manipulating people and often spend a lot of time planning and predicting your psychological responses. If you haven’t found a way to prevent this kind of situation from happening to you, or if you find yourself inside of it with no apparent way out, remember these things:

1- You are the boss.
2 – Good decisions take time.
3 – Sociopaths dominate the world.
4 – Tone and inflection mean everything.

Okay so let’s talk about number four since the other ones are easy. As humans we have the ability to express our ideas and feelings through a variety of outlets. Singing and dancing are ways that humans have been known to express themselves in great complexity. Somehow, we can hear a melody and collectively agree that it sounds “sad,” for example. Or we can watch a dance performance and understand intuitively / subconsciously / cognitively what is going on because we’ve had thousands of years of practice, as a species, interacting with each other with our bodies. When you want to say no but you hesitate or don’t sound sure or assertive enough, it just sends a message to salespeople that the deal is still on the table. It just makes them want to try harder because they’re most likely sociopaths and they live for this kind of challenge. Practice what it’s like to be assertive if it seems out of character for you. The more you practice the easier it will be, and then they more you’ll be able to see the benefits from doing it in your own life.

On a similar level, people who knowingly force others into having sex are either sociopathic or sadistic. But let’s start with the blurry lines and get back to the scary situations after. If you don’t want to have sex with someone and you’re in a situation where you need to explain this, for whatever reason, it might easily feel like the most awkward thing in the entire world. You might feel conflicted about saying no because you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. It’s important to think about it from the opposite perspective though- would you really want to have sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with you back? A good, normal person would say no. A good person would be able appreciate the truth despite the fact it may hurt them a little. Even if you feel too shy to say no, the good person should be able to sense that you’re not into it and stop. Good people can be tempted by unsavory avenues unfortunately. You might have to repeat yourself and it might feel bad to be ignored. It’s best to just leave the situation as fluidly as you can. The good person will eventually come to their senses and feel terrible but that’s not your issue.

On the other hand, it’s really difficult to deal with sociopaths because they perceive other people as objects. For someone who likes to take advantage of others, consent can feel like a fun game. If you have to say no more than once, you might be able to detect what exactly you’re up against based on their response. If I was in a vulnerable position with a sociopath, I would try my best to perform very confusing and insane behaviors to make myself seem unpredictable. It’s difficult to make parameters around something that is unpredictable. This is obviously very hypothetical and non-violent. In the worst case, the sociopath would use physical force to try to achieve their goal. This is a very serious crime, but what is considered a crime is arbitrary in the moment of the crime. If somebody ignores you when you say no it can make you feel powerless, like you have no autonomy, but it’s not true, you’re just dealing with a bonafide asshole. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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