Learning to Say No Confidently

August 20, 2015 Fay Agathangelou

Learning to say no confidently is a challenge many people face, particularly those with low self-esteem. Read tips on learning to say no confidently.

Learning to say no confidently is a challenge many people face, particularly those with low self-esteem. Too many people are afraid to say no and that comes with consequences. For example, it makes it very easy for others to take advantage of you and your own needs don’t get met. You might take on too many things or do things you resent doing. You could become overwhelmed, burned out, anxious, depressed, angry or bitter at the other person. This is not good for your physical or mental health. Learning to say no confidently is important for your own self-care and overall wellbeing.

Tips on Learning to Say No Confidently

  • Know that you have the right to say no. You have the right to express yourself and look after your own needs. Saying no confidently is an important part of being assertive. It’s not selfish and it doesn’t mean you’re rejecting the other person.
  • Stop being a people pleaser people pleaser. Know that you’ll never please everyone, and your own needs matter. Don’t do something just to please other people.
  • Be clear, concise and confident in your response. For example, you could say “sorry, I can’t do that today” or “that doesn’t work for me right now.” There is no need for a lengthy explanation. Practice saying that with conviction – your voice and body language matter. Watch out for signs of submissiveness as others may pick up on that, and take advantage of any weaknesses. A challenge faced by many people, particularly those with low self-esteem, is learning to say no confidently. Read tips on learning to say no confidently.
  • Use the "broken record" technique. This is particularly useful when someone keeps on insisting. You can respond by repeating your point over and over, just like a broken record. For example, “that really doesn’t work for me right now,” or “I’m very sorry but I can’t do that.”
  • Use a delay tactic. If you’re having trouble saying no on the spot, you could try saying “I’ll get back to you later.” This gives you time to think about a response and it gives you some control over the situation. It’s important to get back to the other person when you say you will. When you do get back to them you’ll be better prepared to give a clear, concise and confident response.
  • Negotiate a compromise, but only when you want to. For example, if you really want to to help but the timing doesn’t work, perhaps you could say “I can’t do that today, but how about next week?” It’s important however not to use this as a cop out.
  • Have healthy boundaries. These are important both personally and professionally.
  • Learn to be assertive. Assertiveness is a skill that can be learned.

Most importantly, understand that you have a choice in the way you handle any situation. Being comfortable with saying no will take time and effort, and it probably won't come naturally straight away. However you will build confidence with practice. Learning to say no confidently will help with your self-esteem and overall wellbeing, and it's well worth the effort.

How to Say No With Confidence

In this self-esteem video, I talk about learning to say no with confidence.

You can find Fay Agathangelou on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and her website.

APA Reference
Agathangelou, F. (2015, August 20). Learning to Say No Confidently, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Fay Agathangelou

February, 23 2021 at 5:26 am

I learnt the hardway about being a people pleaser when I worked in a customer service job - I would often go above and beyond with customers, that they would often keep coming back to me with every little problem because they knew I was good at sorting it out.
It got to a point where other team members couldn't do their job as customers didn't want their help because they wanted to speak to me.
All this became overwhelming, and I just had to step back from everything and outright refuse any further requests for assistance. As some customers weren't taking no for an answer and still kept coming back. I did have to use the "broken record" technique, until they got bored and realised they weren't getting anywhere with me.

Yvonne o malley
March, 30 2019 at 5:55 am

Very interesting

August, 21 2015 at 8:56 pm

Thank you for sharing some clear and manageable tips for setting boundaries, which has never been my strong point....but I am learning! There are some good books by Cloud and Townsend on Boundaries. Blessings to you.

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