Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to say "NO!"

(adapted from “Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom’s Guide to Caring for Herself, Her Family, and Her Home.”)

It’s tempting to say “yes” to any request you get—after all, you want to make people happy, help out when you can, and do good deeds. But sometimes, for your own good, you have to say “NO.” Unfortunately it’s not an easy task, especially when you’re turning down a request to do a “good” thing, like teach Sunday School, buy your child the latest fun toy, or head up yet another project.

Here are a few tips for evaluating requests: 
  • Make it a habit to say “I have to check with my spouse/look at my calendar/see if I can find a babysitter” whenever someone asks you to do something. This gives you time to decide if you should do the task or not.
  • Find out all of the details—date, time, time required to complete the task, and so on—before you decide whether or not to say “yes.” You might be surprised to find the task is minor and will fit into your schedule—but you might find a seemingly quick task will require much of your time.
  • Will saying “yes” ultimately help, or hinder the situation? For example, if your child asks for help with his homework, does he truly need help or is it just easier to ask you? Are you being asked to work overtime to fill in for someone who is sick, or is the organization chronically understaffed?
  • Prayerfully consider the request and open your heart to God’s direction. He might urge you in a new direction…or He might prompt you to say “no”.

Principles to saying “NO”:
  • First, have it set in your mind that your “no” answer is the best one for you and your family, and that you will not change your mind.
  • You do not have to give a reason for your answer. Of course if it’s a close friend or family member you might want to explain, but in some cases your explanation will just lead to the other person arguing with you about your reasons, trying to talk you into saying “yes.”
  • The person who is asking might wait silently after you’ve given your “no”, hoping you’ll offer more information or change your mind and say “yes” if she waits long enough. Outwait her. If she is bold enough to question you or try to change your mind, simply repeat your answer, as many times as necessary. Don’t be intimidated. You gave the request thought before you answered; remember how you’ll feel if you’re bullied into doing something you don’t want to do.

How to say “NO”:
  • “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
  • “It just won’t work for me and my family.”
  • “If I do that it won’t help you in the long run.”
  • "Doing that for you will just keep you from learning..."
  • “I have other plans” (even if it’s a plan to take a nap or work on a project at home)
  • “I know I helped last year, but I just can’t this year.”
  • “That’s not one of my skills or interests, but I would like to help by…”
  • “I can’t help you with this fund raiser but I would be willing to help next year.” (Do not say this unless you are really willing to help next year; you WILL be asked!)

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the post for the letter “Y” will be titled, “When to Say YES!”
(I'm also blogging at Nebraska Family Times. Today's post 
is based on Hebrews 4:16 and titled "Near".)


  1. This is an art I've actually perfected over the years. I don't see it as saying no, I see it as saying yes to the things that I really want to do.

    1. I like that way of looking at it Melanie! We sure can't do everything so you are right--saying "NO" means saying "yes" to the things we really want to do. Thank you for commenting!

  2. This is such an important skill, yes skill to have! I know so many people who are just unwilling or unable to say no to the detriment of themselves and their families. Yes, we do need to serve others, but we also need to take care of our families, not do things they need to be doing for themselves, and take care not to run faster than we are able. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Very well said, Marcy! It is a skill--a skill in which practice is sometimes needed. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Saying "no" is something that I've really had to work on in the past few years. I had gotten to a point where I was woefully overscheduled because I just couldn't let other people down. I finally realized that I was stretching myself so thin that I wasn't doing a good job for anyone.

    One of AJ's AtoZ wHooligans
    Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

    1. I've done the same thing in the past, TaMara. It's so easy to do too much in the name of "helping" and "serving" but as you've pointed out, when you're stretched too thin you can't do a good job for anyone. Thank you for commenting!

  4. Learning when and how to say no is a very necessary skill to have. We shouldn't try to run faster or do more than we are able.

  5. pretty nice blog, following :)

    1. Thanks so much! I'll be checking out your blog next. Happy Easter!

  6. It is so difficult, my friend says that it's easy turning a no into a yes, but hard turning a yes into a no. Nice to meet and connect through the atozchallenge.

    1. Wise words from your friend! It IS easy to turn a "no" into a "yes." I think it's always easier to stick with an answer when you have a prepared response. Thanks for checking in--I'll check out your blog too!


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