No is a small word, a short word. You’re asked a question and the answer is no. So why is it so hard for so many women to just say no?

Here’s how it should happen.

Question: Honey, let’s go out for dinner?

Answer: No, I’m so tired I’m about to drop.

Question: Hey, can you take my shift this weekend?

Answer: No, we have plans that’ll be murder to change. How to Ditch the Guilt and Just Say NO!

No. It’s just one simple syllable and it should be easy to say. Until, that is, the question tugs at your heart, or your guilt strings are yanked, twisted and pulled.

Like this:

Can you volunteer at the fundraiser this weekend? We are so short on volunteers, we really need you!

All of a sudden, you’re waffling and while that NO is screaming inside your head, it’s getting farther from your lips: Ummmm, let me think about it…I’ll check with Jim…Not sure what we have on the go this weekend…

We’ve all done it. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, so rather than just say no, we lie and make up a reason for our no. We feel the need to justify, to soften the blow of the no to the person it is being dealt to. Or, we delay the inevitable. Postpone the no. We buy some time to figure out how to do it right. How to Ditch the Guilt and Just Say NO!Why can’t we jump off the fence already and just say NO—and not worry about how it makes the other person feel?

Why do we say YES, when we know full well that we are never going to follow through, or if we do follow through, we can’t stop kicking ourselves? What makes us do such a terrible job at saying no? It’s simple. It’s learned behavior. We’ve been trained through our upbringing and our society to be humble, and always think of others first. We have been disciplined by our proud and well-mannered parents to avoid hurting someone’s feelings at all costs. We care. We put others first.  We want to impress others and do everything and be everything to everybody. We’ve got reputations to uphold. We can be manipulated.

It’s time to put a stop to this vulnerability, and take charge of our responses. Your NO should never have a question mark! So next time someone asks you a question, grab your answer by the horns, and deliver it with poise, grace, and finality. Here’s how.


1. Hold back.

Think about the question, ponder it, and don’t answer right away. Be thoughtful.

2. Assess Your Feelings.

How will your ‘Yes’ feel, and why? If your heart is screaming NO, and your palms start sweating as you struggle to say yes, the answer is NO. Go with your gut. Be aware.

3. Find the YES! in the NO.

Women are strapped when it comes to time, and saying NO to one thing, means you’re saying YES to something else in your life. Use that to justify your NO in your own head. Be choosy.

4. Be Self-ish.

7 Simple Ways to Ditch the Guilt and Just Say NO!If it’s not your thing, say NO, no matter what. You, and your time, are worth it. It’s okay to do what’s good for you.

5. Lose the Guilt.

What others think about you is none of your business. Make your decisions based on what YOU want. People will regard you with amazement at your NO strength, eventually.

6. Be Honest.

Never lie, or make up stories, or prolong the inevitable. Be bold enough to say that you just can’t. Period. Just offer a NO, and then say nothing else. No reason. No justification. Simply No. Watch as the person’s mouth drops open when you stop dead after your NO, and you smile and move easily onto something else.

7. Be Firm.

Feel good about your answer, whatever it is. When you make a decision, commit to it wholeheartedly. You have control over your feelings. Good, bad or ugly, you made a choice so stick to it, be happy and learn for the next time. It is a virtue to be true to yourself, and honest with the people around you, so be assertive when it counts and use Yes and No carefully. Never again will you get stuck with baking brownies for the bake sale instead of going to your precious yoga class. No, no, no, no, no! Go For NO!

About the author

Tina O'Connor

Tina O’Connor is an on-air personality and relationship expert who focuses on parenting, sex and lifestyle issues — with a feng shui twist. She is the author and creator of the popular "Be That" book series, whose titles include "Be That Girl," "Be That Mom" and "Be That Kinky Girl," providing women and couples everywhere with concrete strategies to achieve more balance, happiness, peace and success in their lives. Tina holds a BSc in psychology and is a certified feng shui practitioner and mom of three who appears regularly on Global, CTV and Rogers TV stations across Canada. She has also appeared as a guest on a wide variety of radio stations, from CBC to Playboy Radio. With her straight-talking approach and dynamic personality, Tina gives real-world advice with a flair for entertainment. She truly is "That Girl."

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