Creative Ways to Say No

Creative Ways to Say No

Have you ever felt bad when you had to say no to something?  Or, you may have said yes to something you really did not want to do.  Perhaps the thought of the other person possibly being angry at you seemed more of a hardship than going against yourself and saying yes to something you really did not want to do.

Or, have you ever felt the O word?  Obligation:  agreeing to something because you feel obligated.  This is common among women.  Most of us are natural givers.  Unfortunately, our desire to be validated occasionally overrules our need to honor and respect ourselves.  Some other reasons people have challenges saying no are:    

  1. They are afraid of disappointing others.  Do you suffer from the disease to please?
  2. They have a fear of failure
  3. They fear the reaction of others
  4. They do not feel they deserve support
  5. They fear rejection
  6. They are afraid of being judged or criticized.  Do you feel that asking for help means you are weak?

I feel that I am really good at saying no; therefore, I share the following creative ways to say it1:

  • Just No: “Thanks, I’ll have to pass on that.” (Say it, then zip your lips.)
  • The Gracious No: “I really appreciate you asking me, but my time is already committed.”
  • The “I’m Sorry” No: “ I wish I could, but it’s just not going to work right now.”
  • The “It’s Someone Else’s Decision” No : “I promised my coach (therapist, etc.) I wouldn’t take on any more projects right now. I’m working on creating more balance in my life.”  
  • The “My Family is the Reason” No: “Thanks so much for the invite but that falls on the same day of my son’s soccer game and I never miss those.”
  • The “I Know Someone Else” No”: “I just don’t have the time right now. Let me recommend someone who may be able to help you.”
  • The “I’m Already Booked” No: “I appreciate that you thought of me; however, I am afraid I’m already booked that day.”
  • The “Setting Boundaries” No: “Let me tell you what I can do …”  Be sure to then limit the commitment to what will be comfortable for you.
  • The “Not No, But Not Yes” No: “Let me think about it and I will get back to you later.”

Watch Blaze, the Husky, show you how it is done:


When we respect ourselves, we show others how we need to be valued and respected.  Some women can be squemish about that. I consider it a part of having healthy boundaries.  How many of you were really taught this in your upbringing? Seriously, I do not know many who were. For many children, it was my way or the highway baby with your parents. Did your parents or siblings ever read your diary or come into your room without knocking or snoop through your stuff?  Mine did!

say-noIf we repeatedly experience violations of healthy boundaries, we may grow into adulthood not knowing what is appropriate or not.  The truth is, boundaries are a learned skill and it took me many years to master this.  Trust me, life will surely always provide us with opportunities to practice because people will test you.  This is a skill that will  change your life.

So the next time, someone says something to you that is hurtful, or is upset with you when you don’t want to do what they want you to do, ask yourself:  "How can I establish a healthy and loving boundary for myself that honors me and the other party involved?"

In this world of tight deadlines and distractions, it is important to prioritize quickly and eliminate unnecessary tasks from your day.  This is a simple mindset shift that will give you permission to say no to requests and say yes to the right requests.  Following are four tips to help you manage your energy more effectively:

  1. Become proficient and comfortable at saying no. Practice it.
  2. Ask for help – frequently!
  3. Challenge shoulds when they surface in your mind.
  4. Give yourself permission to change your mind at any time! Period.


1 Adapted from “The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life” by Renee Peterson Trudeau

About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.


  1. Great post, lots of good advice. Love the examples of how to say no! Cute do video, such a good example on how to just say no! It made me laugh, I could be a bit more like that dog in my own life.
    Fran recently posted…Taking Back My Agenda!My Profile

  2. Hi Rachel…..Your tips aren’t just great for women…..They are very helpful to men as well… an instructor I have to say “No” quite often…….Also as an instructor, I have to say “No” in a manner that still leaves a person willing to learn…….so my words have to be presented in a positive manner but still maybe “No”….I have used your method of setting boundaries “No”… very well and lets people feel like a partial victory even though I turned their direction more towards the training I’m trying to convey….everybody wins…..Thanks Rachel…..Smokey
    Gregory Smokey Bowen recently posted…Character, Love, and CompassionMy Profile

  3. Hello Rachel, LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! I was told the other night that I needed to get me some blinders LOL I am copying down each of your creative ways to say NO and am going to practice them..

    Thanks for sharing.. Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Do You Have $10 And A Dream?My Profile

  4. Rachel,
    wow, it is such a great time for me to read this article.. I am one of those people who has hard times to say no… and boy, do I get upset after saying it!!!!

    So.. what is the answer.. well, just as you wrote in your article.. just say no.

    Elaborating on the different ways you can say no it sure helps a lot.. I had to make notes because I am not used at all.. but I now have some great tools to say no when it is needed.. THANKS TO YOU RACHEL 🙂

    I like most the sample you give about setting boundaries.. wow, this is great 🙂

    Thanks so much again
    Nick Catricala recently posted…Make an easy few hundred bucks a dayMy Profile

  5. Hi Rachel. Saying “no” didn’t always come naturally to me, but over time it’s gotten a little easier. I’ve recognized how important it is to focus on what seems right and energizes me. So I try to do what serves me and others best before committing to something. Of course, I still at times find myself saying “yes,” especially with my kids, when I really want to say “no!”
    Karen Peltier recently posted…I Chomped on Some Crickets for a Quick Protein Fix. Would You?My Profile

  6. Us English people are the master of “we’ll get back to you later”. We won’t and we expect you to know we won’t. Setting up boundaries around your time is really important and you have to say no. Thanks for these tips Rachel, I’m going to print them off and use them.
    Sarah Arrow recently posted…3 ways to supercharge your bloggingMy Profile

  7. That was something SMASHING!!! “Appreciated” helpful post specially for the girl like me who always tends level best to stay away from the situation to say “NO”, thanks a lot mam…
    Patricia recently posted…Happy New Year 2015 home decoration images and picturesMy Profile

  8. This is something I have been working on diligently over the last few weeks. I started listening to Chalene Johnson and putting myself first. I love the different forms of no you give out and the video. Too cute. Love the blog!
    Heather recently posted…Growing Your BrandMy Profile

  9. Creative! Excellent ways to say no!

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