Stressed? Too much to do? – say NO

When assertiveness classes were new – many years ago now – I remember being told that if you didn’t want to do something or couldn’t do it you had to say: ‘No I can’t’  - turn on your heel and walk away. I found that almost impossible to do and would find myself going into reams of explanation as to why I had to say no in the first place. Many years on I still find it difficult to say no – mostly I suppose because most of us want to be helpful colleagues and don’t want to be labelled as rude and don’t like conflict in any form. However, when things become too difficult at work or in our private lives – we have to have the guts to do the most difficult thing of all – do something about it and take ACTION

Step 1

Decide you are as important as everyone else – not more or less than other people but equal to – and that you also have rights. It’s amazing how many of us put ourselves at the  bottom of the totem pole – everybody else’s needs come before ours. In my last newsletter I talked about respecting ourselves – if we don’t respect our self it is for sure that nobody else will.

Step 2

Recognise when you are about to go over the edge!
If only we listened to our bodies more carefully we would know when our stress is about to go over the edge and become distress. Positive stress is obviously good for us but very often we constantly push ourselves, take on too much and then we wonder why our bodies and minds begin to react: can’t sleep at night, can’t see the wood for the trees, irritable, depressed, not efficient, no motivation, eczema, asthma, palpitations – the list goes on.

Step 3

Don’t feel guilty
When you do start to take action of course other people won’t like it. They want you to stay as you are. It takes guts to decide you need to change and to make a decision not to feel guilty about it. Obviously most of the time you will say yes – because we want to be helpful – but when it’s all take and no give from a colleague/friend/family member than it’s time to do something about it and say no.


1. Don’t interrupt the speaker – listen respectfully

2. Don’t raise your voice

3. Don’t become upset

4.Make up a white lie: ‘I’m sorry I’ve got to take my daughter to the doctor.:

5.Don’t take on their problem:’ I can’t help you but I know somebody who can.’
( you then spend all your time running around the office trying to solve the problem)

6. Give in: ‘Oh alright then . . . . I’ll do it.’


1. Speak in a confident way

2. Make sure words and body language are congruent i.e. don’t smile while saying’no’

3. Don’t feel you have to explain. You have your reasons and they may not be ones        you want to discuss. If this is the case, try saying something like, “I’m just not able to.” Leave it at that – if you must, change the subject, or say, “I’m sorry, but I need to go.”

4 If you still feel rude then explain simply but make your explanation as simple as possible.

5. Stand firm. If the requester does not want to accept your answer, tell him or her that your mind is made up and that you will not change it.

6. Keep in mind that it’s your time they’re are requesting for and you have the choice to accept or decline what they’re asking of you

7. Tell the truth: ‘I can’t help you with that. I have too much on myself.’

8 .Be brave: ‘No I can’t do that.’

Sometimes we just have to say yes no matter how much we are determined to say No

(our job depends on it!) – so try the following:

1. Spell out the consequences: ‘I have five projects on at the moment If I take on another then all of them will suffer to a certain extent.

2. Ask for advice: ‘If I have to take on a sixth project, then in which order would you like me to prioritise them?

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