How To Say No

How To Say No
Carly Jacobs
Why is saying no so damn hard? Every time I do it,  die a little inside.
Why? Because I want people to like me. I genuinely don’t care what people think of me most of the time but I like to be a decent enough person so that if someone decides they think I’m awful (happens often) and they bitch about me to someone else, I want most people to be shocked. Like ‘You hate Carly? Really? What did she do?’. I’m super fine with people not liking me but I really want them to question the reason why. It’s the same with people who don’t like chocolate. It’s not chocolate’s fault, those people are just weird. Chocolate is amazing. Everyone likes chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate there’s something wrong with you, not chocolate. So if I just say yes to people and try to please everyone, if someone hates me, that’s their problem and good luck trying to explain why. Because I’m Carly. I say yes to most things and most people don’t think I’m garbage. #winning
If you’re a people pleaser like me, you’ll probably say yes a lot more than you’d like to. Because saying yes is great. It makes people like you and it makes you feel great.
However saying yes will have you spending your entire weekend helping someone move house when you really don’t have that time to spare. Saying yes will see you sitting at a baby shower of a work colleague you barely know on a Sunday afternoon when you’d much rather be lying on the couch and watching Game of Thrones. Or doing almost anything else.
Unfortunately you sometimes do have to do these things because it’s what a being a functioning part of society is. Yes you do have to invite that work colleague who you don’t like that much to casual Friday drinks because that’s the nice (and decent) thing to do. No you don’t have to let your second cousin bring her kids to your child free wedding. It’s child free. Der.
There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to say no to things. It’s just a part of life. You have to occasionally do things you don’t want to do – especially if you want people to do things they don’t want to do for you. It’s the circle of obligation and our society would crumble without it.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to be a social slave to everyone you know. If you’re having trouble saying no to things, here are a few things that might help you out.
1. Lie
I’ve only got a handful of friends I do big ticket favours for like airport pickups, house moves and dog sitting and if anyone outside that circle tries to get in the circle, I lie and say I’m too busy. Luckily I’m away a lot so I don’t have lie that often but it definitely happens. I’d rather lie and say I can’t meet something for a drink because I have a prior engagement rather than tell them I just don’t want to. Who says that? I’m generally against any kind of deceit but if you need to have an evening at home and you don’t want to hurt your mates feelings, a well placed lie can really help. Just don’t lie and say you’re going out for dinner with your parents and then snap chat your slippered feet next to a pizza box with your 7th episode of The Mindy Project on in the background. That would be a dead giveaway.
Say No
2. Don’t say maybe
‘Are you free on Saturday?’ is really easy question to answer. You either are or you aren’t and if you’re fluffing around with maybes, most of the time, what you’re really saying to that person that you want to be left open for a better offer. Either commit, or walk away and never treat people like back ups. If there’s extenuating circumstances like you’re going to watch a football game and you’re not sure when it will end – that’s fine. But if you’re waiting for your cooler friends to organise something, you need to say no to anyone else who’s trying to organise something with you.
3. Don’t ask if you’re free on Saturday night when you’re inviting someone to do something awful 
You can only ask that question if it’s something fun. You can’t be like ‘Are you free Saturday night?’ and then when the person says yes you say ‘Yay! I’m re-grouting my bathroom’. That’s a dick move. Never try to get people to commit to things they don’t realise they’re committing to. If someone asks me if I’m free on Saturday, with no explanation I will always respond with ‘Why?’. That way I don’t getting stuck all afternoon with my mates out of town town family shopping at DFO. Not my ideal way to spend a Saturday.

This week on Straight & Curly, Kelly and I are talking about saying no and how to do it well.

Here’s some extra reading on the topic I’ve written over the years…

5 Things You’re Totally Allowed To Say Hell No To

5 Things Productive People Never Say 

How are you with saying no to things? Are you good at it? Or do you suck a bit?

P.S Also you should totally sign up for my newsletter. It’s full of cool stuff.
P.P.S Don’t forget Crochet Coach has a free trial offer period at the moment so make sure you sign up!


  1. Missy D 11 months ago

    I’m probably the opposite, I say no as a default because I need a lot of ‘by myself’ time. When I first moved to Brisbane I didn’t really know anyone so I actually had to train myself to say yes so I could meet people and have a life.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Oh the trappings of an introvert! I find it hard to say no to my mates but I’m okay saying no to pretty much everyone else.

  2. KezUnprepared 11 months ago

    I’ve been practicing saying no more in the last few years. I mean, I’ve always been able to, but I have been learning to do it without crippling anxiety and guilt which takes away any benefit I might have got by saying no in the first place! I’ve been trying to teach my husband not to over explain his ‘no’s. He gets himself all worried when the truth or just a simple, “sorry – we won’t be making it – hope you have a wonderful time” would suffice. I think sometimes we can even risk thinking we’re more important than we are and it can get a bit self indulgent whining on and on with our excuses and sob stories for how we’re filled with regret that we cannot be at some vague event for someone we don’t even talk to that much.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Yes! That’s my main issue is that I think the world will fall apart without me. So stupid letting my ego get in the way of me saying to things.

  3. Hannah 11 months ago

    ^That’s something my husband has helped me with. Saying no without explaining why I said no. If I don’t want to watch your kid this weekend so you can get some things done, I actually can just say, “Sorry, I’m not available. Hope you can find someone else.” End of story. I don’t know why I have to make it more difficult than it is! Ha!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      I’m not available is a great sentence. I just hate when people follow it up with ‘What are you up to?’

  4. sunny 10 months ago

    Oohh I need to learn NOT to say “maybe”. That’s what sucks me in.

    Here’s what I’ve learned about saying no:
    1. If you’re being asked to do something (bake for a bake sale, for example) and you say no, the world will not end AND the person asking will go to the next person on the list. That led me to realizing……
    2. It’s a rare task or job that cannot be done by someone else. . Even a brain surgeon is not the only one in the world who can do that particular job (well, there are exceptions..). Realizing that freed me from thinking I am responsible for whatever task I’m being asked to do, and therefore I must do it even if it doesn’t fit my schedule or my emotional well-being at the time.(As a woman, I can be an emotional sponge – absorbing the mood or need in the room as if it were my own)
    3. I’m the only one who knows how I’m feeling, what my week has been like, what week I’m facing, if I’m overwhelmed or relaxed, if I’m healthy or ill, if I’m stressed by financial obligations or have extra monies tucked away. So I am allowed to say “I can’t make it” when invited to an event – especially if I need a night in. Which leads me to…..
    4. If I tell someone I can’t make it (for any of 101 reasons – other plans, sick, have to work late, etc.) it’s a reflection of the other person’s nosiness if they insist on asking me what I’m doing that I can’t make it. I am free to smile and say I’m not able to make it. (granted, most of these are for acquaintances, etc. and not for the closest of friends)
    5. If I’m at a social event in a group of two or more other people, and I’d like to leave, I want to be like the woman I heard about (I swear it was Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn) who simply say “excuse me” and walk away without giving an excuse (excuse me, I need to use the restroom). nope. she’d say “excuse me” and walk away. I learned from that you don’t have to give an excuse. and you’re still being polite.
    6. I’ve learned to say “no” to buying products or giving into sales pitches because I realized the person is simply doing their job – to sell me a product. But when the time comes to pay the bill, will that sales person be there to cover the bill for me? No. it’ll be my hard earned money paying the bill so I need to figure out if I want the item or service and if I can afford it. The sales person doesn’t know if I have millions in the bank or am overdrawn by $20.

    There..some lessons I’ve learned over the years. But I still don’t get it right every time! 🙂

Leave a Reply