Change Self Health

101 Ways to Say “No!”

Written by Lissa Reidel

– Reduce stress, find more time, be happier: Say No! –

Who knows what is behind the successful person? Each story is unique. But the path ahead is all too apparent: it is strewn with a thousand requests for time, energy, expertise and contributions. And despite responsibilities and pressures, it is too often easier to say “Yes.”

Yet many of us long to implement new ideas, try new projects, and reach new goals of our own. All we need is time.

And there is a way to find the time – without enrolling in a time-management course, shaving an hour off each night’s sleep or giving up vacations. For the busiest of us, the answer is “No!” It isn’t easy and it take practice, but it works.

Think of “No!” as a management tool. Applied correctly, it can produce extra hours every week for life. Is this an extravagant claim? Try “No!” when you are asked to sit on a committee, entertain visiting associates, find lost keys or glasses, donate your services for free, stay on hold, make anyone else’s travel arrangements, host a meeting, be responsible for a mailing or take on an associate’s responsibilities. In the following list, there’s a way to say it that suits you perfectly.

If you offer me support staff and the use of a car and driver, I’ll consider it.

Off the record, I hate the very thought.


Uh uuuh!

Please put your request in writing.

You’re not serious!

I was just going to ask you something very similar.

It sounds simply delicious, but no.

I’d have to meet with you between midnight and 1:00 am.

I’m amazed you have the audacity to ask.

No, thank you.

I’m overcommitted already, but thank you for thinking of me.

I’ve heard people who do such things have a shorter life span.

What a thought – what a perfectly dreadful thought!

You are so sweet to ask – I am so rotten to say no.

It strikes me as trivial.

It strikes me as too serious.

It makes my skin crawl.

My lawyer wouldn’t approve.

My spouse wouldn’t approve.

It sounds fattening.

It sounds illegal.

It sounds like an awful lot of work.

I simply cannot do it.

I’m not interested in that area. Why don’t you call Aiden?

If you knew my schedule, you wouldn’t even suggest that to me.

Are you kidding?

I don’t agree with the goals of that organization.

I’m afraid not.

I’d love to but it is impossible.

I already serve on the Board of Directors of several groups.

I promised myself I’d keep some time for myself this month…year…decade.

If you’ll get my kids off to school every morning, I’ll use that time to do it.

I’d like to say yes, but I’d only have to call you later to cancel.

My garden takes all my time in the spring.

We’re away every weekend in the summer.

You know how it is in the fall.

Winter means there just isn’t a free moment.

No – and don’t ask me again!

I’m allergic.

My insurance doesn’t allow me to drive others in my car.

We’re expecting out-of-town visitors and will be completely tied up.

We’re leaving the country.

I’m very flattered, but regrettably I’m just booked.

You have a nerve asking.

Would you repeat that request?

My dog’s at the vet, my dishwasher broke, my car’s being repaired: it just isn’t a good time.

It would be a conflict of interest.

I’ve heard very bad things about that kind of thing. Of course, I wouldn’t repeat any of them.

Isn’t a congressional committee investigating that organization?

That is the most appalling idea I’ve ever heard.

If you only knew….


Maybe next year.

Maybe some other time.

I’d love to – but my calendar doesn’t have a free moment.

I’m booked.

Out of the question.

I never… go to dinner parties, sell anything, invite strangers into my home, get involved in politics, go to meetings at dinner time, etc.

You really didn’t ask that, did you?

We’ve been friends a long time, haven’t we?

Wait a minute while I check my calendar – Oh no, I can’t do it!

Not right now….check back with me in a few months.

Are you really suggesting I do this?

What an incredibly bad idea! Who thought of it?

I hate that kind of thing!

What made you think I’d respond to that?

Annie is the real expert in that area.

Call Ethan.

After you’ve fleshed out the idea, why don’t you get back to me?
Weekdays are out. Week nights are impossible. Weekends are off limits.

Is this a hypothetical question?

My job prevents me from participating.

I’m shocked.

How could you ask?

Not during the workday.

Sounds too good to be true. I think I’ll pass.

I admit it. I can’t do it.

You don’t really need me. My family (spouse, staff, pet, best friend) does.

It’s hard to say.

There is a ringing in my ear. Did I hear you properly?

Don’t count on me.

Forget it.

How frightful!

In another life.

Rule me out.

Is this a joke?

Someday I’ll have time for such things.

When my ship comes in…

Maybe after the new year….I finish my Master’s…My spouse completes this project….

People have tried bribery. Torture. Extortion. The answer is still no.

Do you remember that meeting I said I’d attend? Well, I have bad news….

Let’s call the whole thing off.

Out of the questions






What a mistake that would be!

Try me again next year!

I’ve had nightmares about such situations.

I refuse.

I decline.

Not for the world.

I know better.

About the author

Lissa Reidel

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