5 Reasons People Have a Hard Time Saying No

5 Reasons People Have a Hard Time Saying: No

Many people have a hard time saying no.

At work the limits of requests are usually clearly defined. But outside of work, in families, friendship groups, and even volunteer positions, the waters are a little less clear.

When a friend asks a favor, or you receive an invitation, or someone you love is in a bind, our default response is usually ‘sure!’ And most of the time, that’s fine.  But it can quickly fall out of balance if you have trouble saying no…

So what can happen, is that you say ‘yes’ to too many things…then you wind up exhausted and burnt-out. Sometimes it even goes so far that you spend all of your time doing what others want, and none doing what you want.

But you matter too!

Saying ‘no’ frees you up to have control over how you spend your time and energy. It enables you to choose.

Yes, or No.

So why is ‘no’ so hard to say? What reasons are there for this reluctance to ever say ’no’?

5 Reasons People Have a Hard Time Saying No:

  1. People pleasing:

Well-behaved and compliant children can sometimes grow up into people-pleasing adults. It sounds like a good thing, after all ‘pleasing’ is a positive word. Saying ‘yes’ makes people happy. The problem with is when it’s out of balance: you’ve inadvertently placed all the value on others and none on yourself.

You matter just as much as anyone else, and if you factor your own wants and needs into each decision with equal gravity, you’ll find ‘no’ gets a little easier to say.

  1. Filling the role of ‘rescuer’ :

Being reliable and a problem solver are positive traits too. Being needed can make us feel good, and we all enjoy feeling appreciated…But again, loving and caring for those around us, and even helping them, shouldn’t always be at our own expense.

Triage requests along with managing your own needs. How is your self-care going? When was the last time you had fun, or spent time doing something you loved? As above, you matter too. Put your own priorities into the mix.

  1. Being manipulated

Not everyone has your best interest at heart, and unfortunately, some people (even friends or relatives) are experts at laying on the guilt or steam-rolling over good-hearted people.


Pay attention to how you feel when being asked (or pressured) into something. Are they holding their affection ransom? Are they threatening a negative consequence if you don’t agree? Did they imply you don’t care about them at all when you tried to say, no? Trust your gut. It really can be, and is, your decision. 


  1. Being put on the spot.

A sudden phone call, or face-to-face requests are particularly troublesome for people who struggle to say no. How can you come up with a reason to say no, when you have no time to think?


This is where preparation is key. These can be used in any situation when you feel yourself begrudgingly saying yes because you can’t think of a way out fast enough….Instead, have a selection of prepared phrases up your sleeve:

  • I’ll need to check my diary before I commit to that.
  • Let me get back to you.


  • I’m not taking on anything new at the moment.
  • I’m unavailable, sorry.

And the ever reliable, and complete sentence:

  • NO.


  1. Having a weak excuse.

Finally, not being able to come up with a good enough excuse to say no, trips people up. They can spend time worrying about how their excuse stands up to the request. Whether their way out will be deemed acceptable, or wonder if there’ll be a backlash later on.

I will say this louder, for the people hiding in the back…

‘NO’ is enough.

You don’t need a good excuse. A firm and definite ‘no’ is all you need. Your confidence in making the right call may not prevent others from behaving badly, but that’s on them.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. Start small, and begin to gradually grow in your confidence in exerting control over your responses to requests from friends, family, and while in volunteer positions.

These are only five reasons people have trouble saying no. What are others? And what are some other ideas about standing up for yourself, and saying ‘no’?

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  1. This article is a good read. I have this same problem that I feel difficulty in saying no I am not available or that no I can’t do this or that I don’t have time right now or iam busy rightnowto esp.those who are close to me like family n frnds or to even kids. But you are right that if that person who always takes care about others on their own expenses and find it difficult to say no, people take that person in ones own family as fool when in reality that person doesn’t want to disturb others for little things. And that person knows very well that they can not beg other people to help them in need. All they have to do is on their own. That’s why its very necessary to say NO to others not in bad way but in an understanding way that they don’t get hurt, say no sorry I will not be available or I am also stuck in my project work or something very stressful, they will understand your reason n will not disturb you. I think this way you will not feel bad by saying no nor the other person. I used this trick only when I really feel that I can not do anything for somebody but I keep them in prayers n I ask God to make me a solution maker for everyone may be someday I will insha’Allah. Now you takecare!


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