Social Question

Shippy's avatar

Are you able to say No?

Asked by Shippy (9870points) December 7th, 2012

Can you say No, to people? To any one, including family members and friends if need be. Do you feel you need to explain why you said no? Or do you do a “silent no”, meaning, “I will get back to you on that” but never do.

Have you recently declined something, and felt pretty good about it, or did you suffer guilt? Why is saying no, so hard sometimes?

Perhaps you are the opposite and serve your “higher self” constantly. Those people I find fascinating, and they could teach people like me a lot. If you are one of those how is it panning out for you?

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51 Answers

burntbonez's avatar

Of course! Why not? I know what I want and I know what I don’t want, and when necessary, I say no. I don’t have to please people to get them to like me.

Shippy's avatar

@burntbonez That’s fantastic! You don’t feel bad either?

gailcalled's avatar

I can. It is easy. I do not feel guilty.

If you are feeling guilty, it means that you are giving people too much power over you.

How do you feel when someone says “No” to you? Do you accept it or get angry or argumentative?

Shippy's avatar

@gailcalled I totally accept it.

gailcalled's avatar

@Shippy: There you are. Be as kind to yourself as you are to the world.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

@Shippy It is a great question and I find that with myself I do say no at times, but other times I won’t so I really do it case by case. I think at times I weigh it up by thinking about what the person would do in the same situation and if they would say no, then it makes it easier to say no to them, but if they would help me out, then I am more likely not to say no.

wundayatta's avatar

I was just thinking of asking this question. Yes and no.

I just finally said no after ten years of being unable to say no. There’s a neighborhood Messiah sing and they always ask me to play trumpet and I just haven’t been able to say no even though it makes me anxious and miserable—so much so that I don’t have any fun. Finally, I did it. How pathetic is that?

But then again, there are things in my psychology I cannot say no to. If someone is attracted to me, I cannot say no. No matter how much I beat myself up and intellectually understand how disastrous this could end up, I let myself get sucked in, and far on the way to trouble before finally finding a way to mess it up. It would be so much easier if I could say no at the beginning, but I haven’t been able to.

Of course, that depresses me and angers me and makes me feel like some kind of sick fuck. I can’t accept myself. I can’t stop myself—at least, not until after a lot of sturm und drang. I’m sure that sounds ridiculous and hollow to most people, but that’s my experience.

I think it makes me sick. Like stomach problems. I feel like I’m unfit to be a human being. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. I need to stop this now.

burntbonez's avatar

@Shippy I suppose I feel bad sometimes, but I don’t feel I owe people any more than I choose to give.

JLeslie's avatar

I can say no. Sometimes it is hard, and I still sometimes find myself doing things I don’t want to do, but usually I can say no if I want to. I don’t feel compelled to always explain. On the receiving end of an explanation it often sounds like a lie, probably because it often is. If I have a good relationship with someone, a trusting one, and they can’t help, or make a date, or whatever, I don’t need to know why. They come through all the time and don’t one time in twenty? They don’t have to explain to me. People who are planning their lie tend to spew out lots of details that were never asked. Usual sign of a liar. Can be a sign of someone guilt ridden I guess who isn’t lying also.

Luckily, in my family there was not tons of obligations, so we didn’t make up a lot of things to get out of them. My parents did not over volunteer themselves and they genuinely liked going to social gatherings. I remember we used to go to Thanksgiving every year at my grandmothers, and the third year we were living out of state was the second time the drive home was horrific. Horrible icy roads. Travel took 8 hours for a 5 hours trip with us little kids in the car and that third trip traffic had come to a dead stop on the highway because a little car, similar to a Miata had slid on ice into the truck in front, and the top of the car was gone and the driver and passanger decapitated. Never again did we travel when the travelling was difficult and unreasonable for a holiday. I think everyone understood and was ok seeing us other times of the year. I do that sort of thing a lot I think. I might say no, but try to find a compromise that is a better option for myself, and hopefully the other person is not too dissappointed. Like my father wants to travel with my husband I. When my parents decided to take an Alaskan cruise I thought that would work out ok, so I asked to go on that trip with them, but other trips he has proposed sound problematic and I have said no. My father is probably the most difficult to say no to. It seems he puts a lot of value on our relationship and it can be a burden for me. Knowing I might hurt him does weigh heavily. Sometimes just being able to stop a conversation with him because it is upsetting to me is extremely difficult, I feel like I sacrifice myself. I do it less now, but still do it. It’s like being run over by a truck at times.

I never do what you call a silent no, at least not intentionally. It wasn’t until adulthood that realized people do that sort of thing. Change a topic if they don’t want to answer a question directly asked them, or pretend like they did not hear the other person, or say they will explain later and don’t. All those are the same to me and are passive aggressive I think, but I kind of have more understanding for it now than I did when I first encountered it.

Shippy's avatar

@wundayatta No it doesn’t sound sick or anything like that. It’s easier to tell you to say no, as an outsider. I am not sure where I became a “yes man” possibly sales. There we are taught to say yes, plus move mountains, and break our necks to get the result required. Or perhaps being a people pleaser came to me at a young age, where I wanted people to “like” me. Do people like people less when they say no. What do we fear when we say no. It’s all so confusing.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have a problem saying no to friends and family, even my boss. Just a typical “people pleaser” I guess. I think I owe it to everyone to help them as much as I can.

Unbroken's avatar

I am working on it. Naturally I feel I owe it to people or not to do something is selfish and self serving.

Some days are better then others but the more practice I get the better I become, and yes it feels incredibly uncomfortable and also liberating at the same time.

JLeslie's avatar

@rosehips What do you mean you owe it? Are you asking other people to do things for you all the time?

Coloma's avatar

Hell YES! lol
I do not believe in doing anything out of a sense of “duty” or “obligation.”
The quickest way for me to dump anyone is if there is even the slightest hint of guilt tripping or other manipulative ploys meant to obtain something through me via underhanded methods.
I don’t “should” on myself and I don’t “should” on others.

Shippy's avatar

@Coloma How do you handle the guilt trip situation, do you just say it? For example, do you just say, stop guilt tripping me?

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

To people who are not my family, it’s very awkward for me to say no. I feel like I’m disappointing them if I say no. I say it all sweet-like and apologetically.
To my family, I just say a blatant no.

Shippy's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess That is so interesting I find it easier to say NO to a stranger, but NOT to family. Just shows how we all put different connotations on saying no.

Coloma's avatar

@Shippy I will overlook it once maybe, but yep, if it becomes a pattern I will call them out on it. That has usually resulted in dropping the relationship because, face it, manipulative people will NEVER own their crap. I have a zero tolerance policy for manipulative people these days.
I refuse to entertain emotional children that cannot handle modest confrontation.

Shippy's avatar

@Coloma I agree, would you also be able to do this to family though? I mean drop the relationship, if it were based on a lot of manipulation?

zenvelo's avatar

One of my big things to work on for the last few years has been learning boundaries and the ability to say No. And it is no longer a big deal, I can even tell my boss “I can’t do that now, I am working on—-.”

I find this to be a sign of healthy maturity.

Coloma's avatar


Well…I dumped my ex husband, so yes. I also set serious boundaries with my mother years ago that resulted in minimal contact for the last 16 years of her life. Anyone can have a moment where they might come across as manipulative, but, when it’s a way of life, part of their under developed minds and/or personality disorders, yep…..see ya.
I despise mind games of any kind and they make healthy relating impossible.

ucme's avatar

Oh yeah, tricky part is getting the timing…..........................................................right!

jordym84's avatar

@Shippy funny you should ask because, for the past week or so, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to say no. I love helping people and I never expect or ask for anything in return, but sometimes I spread myself thin doing things for others and, at times, it gets to me when I realize that they don’t the same for me… I’ve said no a couple of times since beginning my “experiment” and I felt terribly guilty afterwards, so much so that I found myself (over)explaining why I couldn’t do whatever was being asked of me.

josie's avatar

No problem saying no. But when dealing with friends and family, the idea is to not say it too frequently.

Shippy's avatar

@jordym84 I also like to try and help people. I think this is my biggest issue in saying no.Particularly if they have no where else to turn. I am thinking compromise is a big thing. In these situations. Or like some said, Taking it as a case by case situation. Or like others said, understanding boundaries.

JLeslie's avatar

I asked a piggy back Q to this one if any of you are willing to answer you can find it here.

jordym84's avatar

@Shippy Yeah…boundaries. That’s another thing I’ve been trying to work on. I guess my biggest issue with setting boundaries is that I expect people to know them, just as I do. For instance, I’m not an intrusive person and I find it easy to figure out where the line is and how to not cross it and it’s hard for me to understand that not everyone is like that and that most some people need to be told when they have crossed a line.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t like saying no and I will usually go to some trouble to oblige. I don’t tend to ask people for favours and I feel if I am asked it must really mean something to the asker. When I do say no it means just that.

Shippy's avatar

@jordym84 It’s one of the toughest things I am learning. I don’t even know my boundaries at times.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^Check in here. We’ll remind you.

rojo's avatar

Yes. I mean No. I mean….......

Unbroken's avatar

@JLeslie. I am a single woman with no obligations to children etc.
I was raised a pastor’s daughter in a fundamentalist church where women and children were meant to work and serve the males. Additional duties as pastor’s family was to give give give give.
My mom was always overburdened with work and whenever she failed or rebelled it was a bad thing. As a result she became very passive aggressive.
I found it easy to set boundaries with my family upon leaving the home. I grew immune to manipulation and angry at their games. But I never shed the feeling of guilt that accompanied it.
Strangers and friends are harder I must be super woman I must be willing to be kind and hold all of it together because that is my responsibility and it is selfish not to and what the hell else am I doing with my life?

Berserker's avatar

Heh, besides fuck, it’s my favorite word ever.

burntbonez's avatar

Fuck no! Maybe that would make you happy?

Berserker's avatar

Yes. I mean…damn, I’ve been had!

Sunny2's avatar

Not at all. It’s sometimes hard if you belong to a group and members get asked to do different things to keep the group going. I made a few rules for myself. Never agree to a job that does not suit your abilities. I’ve said, “That would be a waste of my talents and a job I couldn’t do well.” Never do the same job two terms (whether 1 year or 2) in a row, If you do, you’ll be expected to do the same job forever. (My mother taught me that because she made her own Christmas cards for years and one year she didn’t. Her friends scolded her and she realized they expected her to perform whether she wanted to or not. The year I had a friend call and ask what day a holiday party we did for a few years would be that year, I stopped giving it. It had been less of a joy for two years and I welcomed being able to give it up. Don’t let people take advantage of you

Unbroken's avatar

@Sunny it is good that you have a criteria. I think that is an excellent solution.

I thought more women then men would have this issue but it looks pretty evenly split interesting.

geeky_mama's avatar

I am able to say “no” – and my ability to do so easily and without guilt is something that improves with each year I grow older. <happy smile>

bookish1's avatar

I am pretty bad at this. It was part of the training I received as a female assigned child in a traditional Asian household. I also hate confrontation so I definitely tend to use the “silent no.” I know I need to work on these things.

Coloma's avatar

@bookish1 Takes most of about 40 years to toughen up…you have plenty of time.
This is why nobody messes with tough old birds. lol

marinelife's avatar

I have gotten better at it.

Bellatrix's avatar

Mostly yes, but on occasions no. I don’t like to let people down and if someone is in need, I can sometimes feel obligated to help even when it isn’t in my best interest or something I really want to do. I am much, much better at saying no now than I was years ago.

BBawlight's avatar

I have. A “friend” (we’re really just acquaintances over the WWW, but she comes to me for advice) asked me to apologize to someone for her because she was too ashamed of herself to PM the other girl and apologize herself.
I told her that she was being a coward for not admitting that what she did was wrong, and that she needed to man-up and do it herself.
I don’t feel guilty because what I said to her was something I felt was just.

augustlan's avatar

I used to have a much harder time saying no, so much so that I’d make myself sick (anxiety/panic attacks) by saying yes all the time, spreading myself too thin or doing things I hated doing. Therapy helped, and getting fibromyalgia helped in an odd way, too. For some reason, saying no in order to avoid a flare up of a physical illness was easier for me to accept than it was for the mental one. I’m still an over-explainer, though. Guilt is my middle name.

Paradox25's avatar

I struggle with saying no to a reasonably high degree I suppose. This has gotten me in trouble when it comes to ‘lending’ money and getting asked out. When it comes to work and religious zealots however I have little problem saying no to others. I guess it is about my motivation at the time, and when it comes to something that would likely hurt somebody’s feelings I tend to struggle with saying no.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@augustlan Is that houw you ended up here?

I will say no if the other person has the funds and can easily pay to have the task done. Don’t ask me fora favor if you are doing it to save cash. A ride from the airport? Rent a car or take a taxi. Don’t take an hour or two out of my life for that.
Buy a bottle of expensive whiskey at the airport duty free shop? No. Buy a certain item at a local shoo you can’t visit. Yep. Absolutely.
Need a ride to the hospital? Absolutely. .I will stay with you all day and get dinner for you.
Need help putting on a belt on the tractor? Absolutely. Need help pumping out the basement? Call me. Need a ride to take your dog to the vet for shots and a cleaning. Nope. Do it yourself.
I am generous but not a doormat.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy I like your list. LOL. If I were making a list I don’t think I would have thought of the tractor nor the basement, and probably could not do much to help with those. I don’t mind picking people up at the airport where I live if they are coming to visit. I’ll even give a lift to the airport for someone local if it is asked on rare occassion, but not as some sort of regular thing.

Coloma's avatar

My favorite was an ex friend that “gave” her brand new car to her husband to take to work every day and refused to drive their other 2, perfectly decent vehicles
.A a nice little mid-90’s truck and her husbands, oooh, like 30k, immaculately restored 60’s Mustang, because she ” didn’t LIKE to drive them.”
Are you freaking kidding me, you have THREE cars and you call ME to drive your ass around town and run errands?!!!

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