Why We Don’t Say No (When We Should)


Did I ever tell you about the time I went out for one quick errand and came back PTA treasurer?   I had no intention of volunteering for the job nor did I know the position was open.  I just stopped by a friend’s house to drop off my daughter and before I left I was treasurer.    I didn’t have the desire or the time for the job, I just thought very highly of the president and didn’t want to let her down.  After all I knew how hard it was to find volunteers for these jobs.

This is just one example of many where I said yes when I really should have said no.

Saying no can be especially hard for parents because we are confronted with a lot of requests from our kids, teachers, bosses, fellow parents, and yes even PTA presidents.  Some of us are good at it and well some of us are not…

But the reality is if we really want to get a handle on the busyness of our lives we have to learn to say no because when we take on things we shouldn’t we (and often those we live with) end up stressed, and overwhelmed.   And even more importantly, the time and attention we spend on the thing we should have said no to distracts us from the things most important.

So if we know we have to say no more often, why don’t we?  Why do we continually say yes when we really want to say no?

The Reasons We Don’t Say No (When We Should)

Here are the top six reasons why I don’t think we say no more often.

Ego –Sometimes it just feels good to be asked.  It gives us a sense of pride to know that someone thinks highly enough of us to ask our help.

Fear – This is the fear of letting someone down, what they may think, or of the negative repercussions of saying no.

Unrealistic Expectations – This is the feeling you experience when you think to yourself, “How hard could this request/job/task be?”   “I can handle it, no problem!”  Sound familiar?

Helpful – Some of us just enjoy being helpful.  We like to help people in their time of need and get a lot of personal fulfillment of being able to do so.

Guilt – Maybe we feel like we haven’t done our part or we aren’t doing enough, so we say yes out of a sense of feeling like to owe something to someone.

We Don’t Know How – Sometimes we just say yes because we don’t know how to say no.  Learning and practicing to say no can make things easier for you.  The next time you are confronted with a request, try saying something like– “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to be able to help.  I have a lot going on right now and just can’t make it a priority.

So the next time you are confronted with a request to do something, be mindful of these reasons and pause to ask yourself if it is something you really want and can take on or are you saying yes for the wrong reasons.

Take Action Steps

  1. Think back over the last few times you said yes when you should have said no and try and figure out why you did. Is there a pattern or a tendency?  If so, use this knowledge of your past mistakes to help you learn to say no in the future.
  2. Pause before you respond – The next time you are asked to do something, pause before responding so that you don’t answer out of pressure.  “Let me think about it”, is always an option.

So what do you think?  Would love to hear your thoughts on Facebook.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.