How to say NO

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Email: Twitter: @kcejelonu

KC Ejelonu QEDWe all aim to please and saying NO sometimes can be a hard thing to do. Saying NO to someone who won’t take NO for an answer is a difficult task. How do you say NO without being labeled an “asshole” or “bitch”?

Well, it isn’t one easy task, unless you are just an aggressive human being and don’t care about anyone’s feelings. Someone once said to me that when you learn to say NO you realise how wonderful not helping people can be at times. At first I did not understand that statement, I mean how can you have a wonderful feeling not helping someone? But the person went on further to explain that saying no is about respecting your time and making sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin.

You understand this principle better when dealing with an ex who has refused to take NO for an answer. Abeg, make una help me ask am, maybe the guy see me for dream, because the matter don tire me. I have tried staying calm; e no work. Then I went all rude and aggressive with this guy oh; e still no work.

What’s a girl to do? Blocked his number and he finds his way still through friends, etc. I have come to the conclusion that no matter what I do or say, this guy won’t go until he is tired and frankly it’s not my problem but his own problem. His number has been saved as “Don’t Pick”. When I see him in public, I will just be polite and say hi, but act as if I’m very busy so I don’t have to entertain any long chat.

Now if you are finding it hard to say NO to an ex, a friend or colleague at work and my approach does not work for you, you may try some tips I found online at

Don’t wait until you’re fed up

Whether it’s spouse, lover or friend; when you squelch your feelings, you’re eventually going to explode. You can ignore little things but if your friend has really upset you or grates on you by doing the same things repeatedly, don’t let ill feelings fester too long. Initiate a discussion about the problem when you’re calm and before you’ve built up resentment.

Don’t feel guilty. You can’t say yes to everything

Even the best of friends don’t always agree or see things eye to eye. Your friend may think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask a favour of you but you may feel otherwise. True friends have to be sensitive to each other’s feelings and be willing to accept NO for an answer when it’s reasonable. Sure, we all want to help out our friends and support them but if the personal cost of saying yes is too great, either morally or logistically, it’s okay to say NO.

If your friends can’t accept NO for an answer, recognise it as their problem not yours.

Some people are extremely self-centred and demanding, to the point of taking their friends (and others) for granted. Your friend may be overwhelmed by problems or just totally wrapped up in herself. This person may have a hard time accepting NO under any circumstances, particularly if she is accustomed to hearing you say yes. In this case, you need to be firm and not back down.

Carefully consider why you’ve decided to say NO

Saying NO always has ramifications for a relationship so mull over why you’ve decided to say NO and whether it’s appropriate. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying NO to a reasonable request if someone has made too many unreasonable ones in the past. Examine each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Try to say NO as graciously as you can

Saying NO doesn’t have to come off harsh and can actually be couched in some tender terms to help soften the blow. You might say, “I wish I could but” or “I really can’t because…” Providing a reasonable explanation of why you’re saying NO always helps the other person understand your decision.

When you’re both relaxed, talk about limits and boundaries in friendships

Even the best of friendships require minor tune-ups to remain vital. Good friends need to be able to communicate regularly to make sure the relationship works for both people. If you feel your boundaries are being violated, it’s better to talk about it before it becomes explosive.

If you are unable to say NO, even when you want to, find out what’s holding you back

Some people are unable to say NO because their need to be liked is so great and their self-confidence is so lacking. If you have this problem and it’s interfering with your relationships-personal or professional-you may want to speak to a counsellor, coach, or mental health professional who can help you better understand the problem and address it.