Have you ever found yourself stumbling for a polite way to say no? So you just say yes, even though you know you shouldn’t. This is for you.
This is the people pleasers guide to saying “No”.
We’ve all been there. We say yes to something we should have declined, leading to internal conflict and frustration. We find ourselves rescheduling other commitments, potentially disappointing our families and inflicting more chaos into our lives than is necessary. This struggle is all too common for people-pleasers.
The truth is, saying yes to one thing often means saying no to something else. For me, agreeing to certain activities usually means declining personal time or time with family. I’ve reflected on my own actions and realized that I often prioritize others over my own family, despite claiming that my family matters most.
So today, I am sharing FIVE strategies that can help you honor the boundaries that you need when you need them, and say no in a way that I hope you can be comfortable with and doesn’t make you feel like a jerk.
This episode will help:
👉Natural people-pleasers learn powerful strategies for saying no politely
👉Anyone prioritize their well-being without feeling guilty
👉You learn how to gracefully decline and honor your commitments without overextending yourself
In this episode:
1:21 Why learning to say NO is so important
6:29 Knowing our values and boundaries
8:36 Stop saying YES on the spot.
11:30 Breaking the addiction to saying yes
16:11 Choosing your identify
18:23 Different options for saying no politely and making it clear that you are not brushing someone off.
20:38. Your ‘NO’ could be the example another woman needs
( insert video)
Saying NO on the Spot
If you are a die-hard people pleaser, then it is your natural go-to instinct just to say yes. That’s gonna have to be untrained. Just like any other bad habit we might have, we’re gonna have to practice breaking the trained response. The number one thing that helped me to break that habit, hands down, was to stop saying yes or no on the spot.
Take that even further by asking them to follow up with you. I typically say that I need to check our calendars (which I do). Maybe I need to check in with my hubby or with the kids, make sure no one has anything or figure out what’s going on and ask that they check back in with me. It gives you time to evaluate whether it should be a yes or a no.
Remember, there is power in the pause!
If you can just implement this one strategy to not give an answer in the moment, you will be able to break the people-pleaser cycle. Pinky promise.
Offer an Alternative When You Can
Saying no and feeling like we are disappointing or letting someone down is tough. One thing that’s really helped me to be able to say no more comfortably is when I can offer up a fair alternative. For example, let’s say someone asks you to volunteer, and you absolutely can’t do it. Instead of grabbing onto the guilt, you can say something like, “oh my gosh, I can’t make X work however, I could commit to do Y or Z…..”
In real life, this might sound like, “I can’t commit to chairing the school harvest festival this year, but I can absolutely run a booth the night of.”
Value Your Own Time
This is so important for all of us as women – we have got to value our own time. Business owners can really muddle this up where they’re saying yes to huge additional things, and I also see this so much when it comes to volunteering and serving others. We end up being inundated and slammed with so much extra because we’re not valuing our own time.
You must believe in the value of your work because if you don’t, no one else will either.
Even without them meaning to, you can get taken advantage of you because you’re making it look like you’re just always available and you’ve got so much time. The truth is none of us do. It’s not easy to always show up and serve, and it’s okay to acknowledge that.
Your time is valuable, your work is valuable, your services are valuable, your showing up is valuable, and that’s the truth!
Choose Your Identity
In one of my very favorite movies of all time, The Holiday, Arthur, this adorable, wise, older man, is having dinner with Iris, who is this young, beautiful woman who has lost her spark. Mid-conversation, Arthur says to her, “Iris, in the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are the leading lady, but for some reason you’re behaving like the best friend.”
And Iris responds. “You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life.”
Why is that so valuable? Because when we are the leading ladies of our own lives, we are taking ownership and control of our lives. We are owning our actions. We are owning our part in taking responsibility for the life that we want, and that is empowering. That gives us our power back because we stop giving our power to others.
This idea of saying yes when you know that it is not the right time to say yes because you want someone else to be happy, is putting their happiness as more valuable than yours, than your kids, than your spouse, than your family.
That is not being the leading lady of our own lives.
8.5 Ways to Polietley Say No
If you’re really, really, really bad at it, you probably need to practice saying polite “no’s” and get comfortable with the way it sounds, with how it feels when saying it and using it. And I’m gonna help you out with a few go to phrases that you can use
- Can you check back with me tomorrow (or whatever timeframe makes sense) after I have a chance to look at my calendar? (So, this first one is not a no, it’s giving you a Pause so you can decide if you want to say yes or no, and it’s my favorite!)
- That sounds amazing, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to do it this time
- I can’t right now, but please think of me again next time, because I really, really want to
- I’m honored you thought of me, but I can’t this time.
- I am currently at capacity, but please think of me next time,
- You’re so thoughtful to think of me, but I won’t be able to make it this time.
- I promised my family I wouldn’t commit to anything else this week or this month.
- I can’t commit right now. Could you follow up with me next week, and I’ll see if it’s possible?
- I’m so sorry, but I can’t commit right now. I promised myself I’d take a pause for the rest of this month.
All of these are ways that we can say no without sounding like a jerk, without making them feel like what they asked of us was obnoxious or rude. It leaves us feeling polite, feeling professional when it needs to be, but we’re protecting our own boundaries.
We’re protecting ourselves, and we’re staying the leading lady of our own life. So that we can have the power to live our best life.
The Positive Impact of Saying No
So here’s the other really cool thing. Your NO could have a positive impact further than just opening up space in your own life. It could be the example that another woman needs. For the person on the other side of the request, you could be opening the door for them to see areas in their life where they can say no and feel empowered to do that by your example! Just think about that!
Learning to say no is a journey, but with practice and the right strategies, you can break the habit of people-pleasing and start prioritizing your own needs. Remember, it’s not just about saying no, it’s about saying yes to yourself.
Links You Need:
I’d love to connect and know your thoughts on this episode. Find me on Instagram!
Want to learn how to drop an entire workday a week? Grab my FREE COURSE
Other Episodes You’ll Love:
Avoiding Mommy Burnout Part 1 ( Ep 42)
[00:00:00] Leah: Have you ever experienced this? I am no longer hearing a word she’s saying. I’m having this entire internal dialogue with myself, cursing myself for saying yes when I clearly should not have said yes. I literally have a conflict at the same. Time, but I didn’t wanna disappoint her. So now what? I get to reschedule the other thing, create a huge hassle for myself, disappoint someone else.
[00:00:30] And let’s just face it. That’s usually going to mean that it’s either me or my family because, well, we’re the easiest. Uh, why did I even say yes crud? Did she just ask me a question? She asked me a question. Uh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. What did you say? This is the people pleasers guide to saying No.
[00:01:24] Have you ever found yourself stumbling for a polite way to say no? So you just say yes, even though you know you shouldn’t. This is for you. This is the people pleasers guide to say No. And it comes in so many different forms, right? Maybe it’s a client or a friend asking something of you. Maybe it’s really not very reasonable at all.
[00:01:49] But instead of explaining your position politely, like the confident woman that you are, you start mumbling, staring at your shoes, and suddenly you find that you’ve agreed to take him to the airport and watch their blind incontinent dog for the next two months. Or maybe what they’re asking is totally reasonable.
[00:02:09] I mean, so often a request that’s being made, it is reasonable, it’s fine. And at any other time you would love to say yes. It’s just that at this time right now, it. It would be too much. And yet so often we don’t wanna admit that. We don’t wanna acknowledge it. We don’t want anyone else to know. I don’t know that we have weaknesses, that we’re not invincible, that we actually need sleep and rest.
[00:02:34] I’m not sure. But instead of saying what we should say, we agree because we like it when people are happy with us. We like that feeling, that dopamine drip of seeing them like, oh, you’re amazing. Even though we’re literally having an internal conversation with ourselves that is like, no, I am not amazing. I cannot believe I just agreed to this.
[00:02:58] This is not going to go well. I’ve had it happen so many times. Someone makes a request and I wanna just believe that, you know, it’s with good intentions that they’re asking, but they just don’t understand the stress or the time investment of what they’re asking for, or they have no idea about extenuating circumstances that I’m currently dealing with that make it really hard at that moment.
[00:03:23] But being someone who really likes to please, I find myself agreeing to things that were simply not good for me or my family. And that’s one of the biggest parts that I really wanna focus as we have this conversation and as we open up this dialogue, is that so often a yes is a no to what we say matters most.
[00:03:45] So the bottom line is, Any yes has to be a no somewhere else because we can’t be in two places at one time. If I wake up and I do my workout and I have my morning routine, it’s no to sleeping in. If I say yes to sleeping in, it’s no to have that extra time in the morning just for myself. If I say no to helping with some event.
[00:04:11] It might mean that I get to say yes to spending more time with my family, having dinner together, all of us being there at night. But if I say yes to dinner with my family and being there to all be together, then I’m saying no to being able to help Every yes has to mean a no somewhere and every no means a yes somewhere else.
[00:04:31] Even just recognizing that one. Undeniable truth can make such an impact. Because what I finally had to start figuring out was that every time I was saying yes, when I knew I shouldn’t be, it was almost always directly, no to my family. Almost every time. They’re who I disappoint every single time. And then I realized, I say they matter most.
[00:04:54] I say they’re what’s important. They are the most important, but my actions are not in alignment with my words, , and I want my actions to be in alignment with my words. so let’s talk about how we can say no, but in a polite way. That we won’t run from, cuz that’s the bottom line. The more uncomfortable saying no is the more likely we are to say yes. And we all have that person in our life who knows this and they seem to know exactly how to corner us into. Saying Yes, even when we shouldn’t.
[00:05:29] I have a few of those if I’m being totally honest. And so over time, I’ve put some tools in my little tool belt that help me to be able to protect myself, to set those boundaries, to be able to say no without feeling so incredibly uncomfortable that I literally run from no and just say yes, and then braid myself.
[00:05:54] Literally as the words are coming outta my mouth. So if you’ve ever experienced that, so have I. And here are the strategies that I use that have really helped.
[00:06:04] Everything we’re talking about when it comes to being able to say no and say it politely, so you’re comfortable enough to say it, and that’s why I’m gonna encourage that We find really comfortable ways to say no, because if it’s too uncomfortable, we won’t say it. We’ll just say yes, even though it literally can be hurting us.
[00:06:24] Yeah, everything we’re talking about, it comes down to boundaries. Now, I don’t know how you feel about that word. I feel like it’s a bit of a trigger word. Boundaries can feel restrictive. For some, it can feel rude for others. I’ve definitely heard boundaries explained in ways where I’m like, um, that doesn’t feel nice, that doesn’t feel kind.
[00:06:45] I don’t feel comfortable with that, so I wanna acknowledge that because I believe so often. I. Some of what we’re shown is this attitude that’s you just need to take care of yourself. You need to do what’s good for you. If it doesn’t feel good, just say no. If it’s not an absolute yes, say no. Some of these different mantras, and while I think there’s a shred of truth in them, , . I also feel like there are some big red flags in those statements and mantras.
[00:07:20] If I was to only do what I felt like doing, what I enjoyed doing, what made me happy, that is a recipe to crumble a society. I mean, let’s just think about that for a second. If we all walked around and only did what we felt like doing, where are the good Samaritans? Where’s the person who volunteers to bring the dinner for someone?
[00:07:41] Where’s the person who sets up and takes down the chairs after the event? Where’s the person who does the yucky stuff? We all need to pitch in and help. But it’s about recognizing and acknowledging that there are some times when we really are at capacity, when saying yes is hurting ourselves, it’s hurting our family, it’s hurting our own health, and that is where I wanna step in and help you.
[00:08:11] Those are the nos. I wanna help you to be able to say, not we’re just gonna do a blanket no forever unless we want to, because I don’t wanna teach my kids that. I don’t wanna be that kind of person and I am. Sure that you don’t either. So I wanna say that, and I wanna talk about that because a lot of times I see these, these quotes and these mantras that are this idea of only doing what you feel like doing, and they just make me cringe a little bit.
[00:08:40] I remember seeing this one quote that was like, it is not your responsibility to take care of others. And I was like, whoa, what? Like who are we? If we don’t step in and help one another and serve each other and love each other and take care of each other? The great two commandments. Love God, love one another, love our neighbors, right?
[00:09:03] I’m like, um, no. I think we’ve gone too far. The pendulum has swung way too far, but there are times when saying no is literally hurting our health, hurting our mental state, hurting our family. And so we’ve gotta know how to say no politely in a way that we’re not gonna run from when that is the case.
[00:09:24] Okay, so here’s what I have. I have five strategies that can help you honor the boundaries that you need when you need them, and say no in a way that I hope you can be comfortable with and doesn’t make you feel like a jerk. But I’m gonna start by saying this. This is gonna be something we just have to practice.
[00:09:43] If you are a people pleaser, die hard, then it is your natural go-to instinct to just say yes. That’s gonna have to be untrained. Just like any other bad habit that we could have, we’re gonna have to practice breaking that habit. , the number one thing that helped me to break that habit.
[00:10:06] Hands down was to stop saying yes or no on the spot. Just trying to make a blanket rule that unless it was an absolute no-brainer, I did not say yes or no on the spot. I would ask them to follow up. That took some practice. In the beginning I kept saying things like, I’ll get back to you, but then I just added another thing to my own to-do list to my own.
[00:10:31] Schedule. And the thing is, is they’re asking something of me, so it should be appropriate and acceptable that I ask them to then follow up with me. So first of all, try to break the habit of giving an answer on the spot that is gonna make the biggest difference of anything we could really even talked about with that.
[00:10:52] Try to take that even further by asking them to follow up with you, not you saying you are going to. Follow up with them, get back with them, that you now have to remember that I typically use that I need to check our calendars. I need to check in with my hubby with the kids, make sure no one has anything or figure out what’s going on.
[00:11:13] But if you can just implement this one strategy to not give an answer in the moment, you will be able to break the people pleaser cycle. That cycle is fueled by seeing their reaction and pleasure that you’re doing what they want you to do. When we say we need to follow up or ask them to follow up with us, that is definitely the better option.
[00:11:37] That visual cue or that. Verbal cue that we hear, where we can hear their excitement, we can hear that they’re pleased with us. That dopamine drip that we get, it is interrupted, it is blocked, it’s stopped. And so we can break that cycle of saying yes right on the spot because we’re getting something out of yes in the moment.
[00:11:57] It’s making us feel good. It’s making us feel like we’re important, we’re valuable, we’ve made them happy even when, as soon as we walk away. Those feelings of that dopamine drip of feeling really good are gonna be instantly replaced because we’re kicking ourselves because it’s hurting another area of our life, something else we care about.
[00:12:19] Number two, offer an alternative when you can. So one thing that’s really helped me to be able to say no more comfortably is. When I can I offer up a fair alternative? Oh, I can’t do that, but I could do this. So for example, let’s say someone asks you to volunteer and you’re like, yeah, I think I could do that.
[00:12:43] And this actually recently happened. And so I submit this form of when I think I’m available, I get back the. The schedule, and I’m put on days that I did not say I was available. So I looked and checked one of ’em. I was like, you know what? I can make that work because I do want to try to make things work when I can.
[00:13:04] But the other one, it just really didn’t work. And so instead of grabbing onto the guilt that immediately was trying to grip me and say, oh my gosh, you said you would, you should do this. They’re gonna be let down. All these thoughts. I offered a fair alternative. I came back and said, we can’t make this work however we could do this.
[00:13:29] Number three. Value your time. This is so important for all of us as women. We have got to value our own time. Business owners can really muddle this up where they’re saying yes to huge additional things. That should be charged for, but they just wanna make someone happy so much that they’re doing it anyways, or in a volunteer capacity.
[00:13:55] I see this a lot where you’re just being inundated and slammed with so much extra because we’re not valuing our own time. You must believe in the value of your work because if you don’t, no one else will either. Bottom line, when you value what you have to give. Others will value it. When you devalue it.
[00:14:19] When you diminish it, others will too. And even without meaning to, they can and might take advantage of you because you’re making it look like you’re just always available. It’s so easy. You’ve got so much time, and the truth is none of us do. It’s not easy to serve and to give for any of us, and it’s okay to acknowledge that.
[00:14:45] Your time is valuable, that your work is valuable, that your services are valuable, that you showing up is valuable because it is, and that’s the truth for anyone else showing up for you. All right, number four, choose your identity. This is maybe a surprising one to hear as we’re talking about. People pleasers guide to know, but we have to think about and acknowledge who we wanna be.
[00:15:12] Are we the type of person who feels a little mousey and says yes when we shouldn’t and is so stuck on people being happy with us that we do things that aren’t good for us? Or are we strong? Are we confident? Do we have an identity that says that we are valuable, that we are important, that what we have to offer and give.
[00:15:35] Is great. Know who you wanna be, and then step in to that persona, step in to that identity. This is such a critical step that most of us are skipping. We don’t stop and sit down and say, who do I wanna be? In one of my very favorite movies of all time, the holiday, if you haven’t seen it, please, please, please see it. Wait till Christmas time though. It’s, I save it for Christmas time. Okay, so Arthur, this adorable, wise, older man, he’s having dinner with Iris, who is this young, beautiful woman who has.
[00:16:14] Lost her spark. And Arthur says to her, Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You I can tell are the leading lady, but for some reason you’re behaving like the best friend. And Iris responds. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life. And she has this epiphany where she realizes this now.
[00:16:38] Why is that so valuable? Because when we are the leading ladies of our own lives, we are taking ownership of our lives. We are taking control of our lives, .
[00:16:49] We are owning our actions. We are owning our part in taking responsibility for the life that we want, and that is empowering. That gives us our power back because we stop giving our power to others. This idea of saying yes when you know. It is not the right time to say yes because you want someone else to be happy and you’re putting their happiness as more valuable than yours, than your kids, than your spouse, than your family.
[00:17:18] That is not being the leading lady of our own lives. Okay, so choosing your identity. Who do you wanna be? Who are you showing up as? And it’s the leading lady, because that’s who we are. Okay. Last and final is let’s practice being polite. That’s my fifth strategy. If you’re really, really, really bad at it, you probably need to practice polite nose and get comfortable with the way it sounds, with how it feels with saying it and using it so that when you’re caught off guard, because most requests catch us off guard, right?
[00:17:54] Like very often we’re asked in the moment in real time, and that’s why. What tumbles out of our mouth is yes, even though it should be no. So let’s practice some polite ways to say no, and you need to find what you feel comfortable with. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned was I was hearing all these ways to say no, and they weren’t comfortable to me.
[00:18:17] They were too rigid. They were too. Abrupt. I didn’t like ’em. I, they weren’t gonna come outta my mouth because I didn’t like the way they sounded, so I had to find my own way. So you’re gonna find that these ones that I’m offering are very flowery, they’re very friendly. Nos, they’re enthusiastic because that’s me, that’s my personality.
[00:18:37] So you make them work for you.
[00:18:40] Now, here’s what I’d love to ask you to do if it’s possible for the remainder of this episode, either be ready to text yourself or grab a notepad and pen because I want you to pick out. Just a few of your favorite options that I’m about to give you on how to say no politely, the ones that feel most like you, and then put them where you can find them.
[00:19:01] So that can be in your notes app on your phone. It could be on a sticky note in your wallet, wherever you are going to see these. To be able to refresh on them, especially if there’s that person that you know has a tendency to back you into a corner, practice them before you go see them and hang out with them so that you’re ready.
[00:19:21] Okay, here they are. That sounds amazing, but unfortunately I wont be able to do it this time. I do really like people knowing that it does sound fun, cuz sometimes I’m like, yes, I would love to do that, but. I need to say no this time. I think one of our fears often is that if we say no, they’re not gonna think of us again.
[00:19:42] So just say that. So many times I’ve said, oh my gosh, I can’t right now, but please think of me again next time, because I really, really want to. That way I’m making it clear I’m not trying to brush you off. It just really isn’t the right time. Another option, I’m honored you thought of me, but I can’t this time.
[00:20:04] Another option. I am currently at capacity, but please think of me next time, or you’re so thoughtful to think of me, but I won’t be able to make it this time. Or I promised my family, I wouldn’t commit to anything else this week or this month. I also will use this in my business. I promise my team, we’re not committing to anything else for the rest of the quarter, for the rest of the month we’re at capacity, but we will be.
[00:20:32] Reexamining this in the fall, please check back with us. Then notice I also put it on them to follow up and not me. Another option, I promised myself that I would take us pause and you could elaborate on this. I promised myself I’d take a pause. So as awesome as this is, I’m going to prove to myself that I do what I say I’m gonna do, and I’m gonna have to say no this time, or I can’t commit right now.
[00:20:58] Could you follow up with me next week and I’ll see if it’s possible. All of these are ways that we can say no without sounding like a jerk, without making them feel like what they asked of us was obnoxious or rude. It leaves us feeling polite, feeling professional when it needs to be, but we’re protecting our own boundaries.
[00:21:22] We’re protecting ourselves, and we’re staying the leading lady of our own life. So that we can have the power to live our best life. Your saying no could be the beautiful example. For the person on the other side of the request that they need to realize that they can say no to. Think about that. Someone who’s asking way too much of you, it might be because they’re also giving way too much because it’s all being expected of them.
[00:21:55] And by you saying no. You might be opening up the door for them to be like, wait, we can do that. That’s allowed. I actually remember years and years ago seeing others say no and thinking that being like, no way we can do that. It was really empowering for me to see the beautiful example of another woman showing me a better way.
[00:22:18] So just think about that. Also, you might be the beautiful woman showing another way. Now, I think I’ve made it really clear, but in all of this, let’s make sure that we show up when we can. Let’s give when we can. Let’s help when we can, even when we don’t feel like it, because that’s how we make a better world.
[00:22:39] That’s how we make a better society. That’s definitely how we create stronger and better families. But we wanna do it in a way where we’re saying yes for the right reasons, not saying yes because. Honestly, we just don’t wanna look bad. We don’t wanna be judged. We don’t want to feel like we’re, I don’t know, not enough, whatever it is.
[00:23:03] None of us are an island, so we need to help each other. We need to support each other. And if you’re listening to this episode, that doesn’t seem to be your problem. We also need to understand that in all of that, helping each other, supporting each other. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can do more good.
[00:23:23] Here’s why saying no is such an important skill.
[00:23:27] Number one. It allows for boundaries that are going to protect our family time, our goals, and our health. Think about how important that is. Your family, I’m sure is what you say matters most to you, your health. Um, we need that indefinitely and we need it in order to show up when we can say yes and our goals, the life that we want.
[00:23:50] If we say yes to everything else, we could be saying no. To the life that we dream of because we’re just not making space, we’re not making it a priority. Number two, it helps us to avoid burnout. If we say yes to everything, we will burn out and then we’re no good to anybody because now we’re resentful the whole time that we’re doing the thing that we were asked to do.
[00:24:11] We’re losing interest in the things we’re passionate about. We’re grouchy, we’re feeling frustrated. We’re not sleeping enough. It’s all boils down to a very negative outcome. So saying no at the right times is going to help us avoid burnout. And finally, no makes room for the important things. When we say no at the right times, we are making room for what matters most.
[00:24:40] Okay? That’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for being part of it. I am here to help you balance the busy by doing less but better so that you can live a life that truly lights you up. I’ll see you next time.Hide Transcript