There are better ways to say ‘No!’

Here are few ideas from Ranju Walia to manage your life without being rude, secluded or unkind to the people around

One look at the clock, one at the downloading document, hands occupied for signing the papers and stirring the dish in the cauldron being cooked for mother-in-law’s potluck lunch kitty. Mind busy in chalking out the action plan for the next task standing in the queue.

Untouched coffee lying on the table corner was losing it’s warmth.

Stomach was growling and desperate to welcome the sandwich which is about to lose it’s softness in the boundaries of ceramic plate.

It seems that her priority was everything and everyone but not herself.

Clock strikes nine and she picked up her essentials to push off. It took almost an hour to reach her work place. As usual she marked her attendance, greeted her colleagues with a warm smile and proceeded towards her cabin.

This is Shreya, 32 years old , working as an executive director for a private firm. Sensible, sincere and soft spoken. Actually a human who is brought up according to the typical norms of society; having the habit of saying yes to everyone, please everyone, ever ready to help everyone, non demanding, modest and tolerant.

She adjusted her chair, settled down , switched on her computer and started prioritising the files.

Before she picks up her task, Mr Khanna dropped in and started speaking in a low voice…

“I fainted last evening due to blood pressure fluctuations and now I am feeling nausea and dizziness. I have to complete this file by lunch break. Will you help me to complete these reports for me?”


Shreya replied in acceptance while holding the file from his hands.

Mr Khanna went away to enjoy his cup of green tea and she started working on his file.

Before lunch Mrs Chauhan came in and requested her to pick her daughter from the crèche and then to drop her at her mother’s home because she herself was not feeling good for the drive due to disturbed sleep last night.

Shreya agreed again.

She skipped her second meals too to share Mrs Chauhan’s responsibility. On the way she felt little heaviness in her head and soon it started paining. She reached back after 40 minutes and was totally exhausted. Her headache reminded her about the ignored coffee, sandwich and packed lunch.

Taking an aspirin was the only option because there was no time to take rest and wait for the headache to subside. So she hurriedly took out her lunch box and gobbled the food and popped the tablet inside her mouth.

She started working in a sluggish mode and somehow managed to finish her office work.There was no charm on her face because she was not happy with her performance. She knew that she could do better but she could not give her hundred percent due to lack of time.

She felt uncomfortable and disappointed from her own performance.

This was her routine practice. She was an ever ready help for her friends, colleagues and relatives. She always wanted to help others beyond her all limitations.

But ironically that did not make her the most lovable person amongst all. It rather deteriorated her health. Her own growth and performance also slowed down. She looked like a machine and everyone around her had the access to her remote control.

She was the same from past so many years but today she felt miserable. She analysed her habit of helping others and it’s affect on her life in total. This was the right time to question herself and she did.

Why I am supposed to help everyone?

The answer was ready with her.

To be an ideal in every single relation.

To be everyone’s favourite.

But she realised that inspite of lot many efforts she could not achieve the goal. There were still many around her who don’t give a damn about her.

Then why she was making it complicated for herself.

This was the moment when she decided to change her attitude towards help seekers around her. It was not that easy because she could not afford to forget her values and turn unkind or rude.

So finally she thought of the idea of staying humble while saying no and started working on it with immediate effect.

Here I want to ask you.

Is there anything wrong in helping others?

May be NO..

May be YES..

It all depends on the situation.

Human nature is very complicated.

We want to be liked.

We want to be kind.

We want to be agreeable.

And to achieve these three things we exercise our mind and body very hard.

But sadly  the results are not favourable most of the times.

We all have experienced, that inspite of being very nice and cool towards our friends and colleagues, a few of them will still say and think something unappreciable about us. Now it  clearly indicates that we are not supposed to be nice always.

There is no fun in being nice and agreeable with everyone because it is not working.

So stop worrying  !!

Then what to do?

Let’s talk about a couple of ways to protect ourselves from such situations which not only Shreya but you and me also have experienced in our respective lives.

Dear you…

In such situations, no need to make excuses of your ill health or of the elders’ at home.

Make a practical approach.

Say NO without feeling guilty.

I know…Saying no is not easy ,it can be really hard. Moreover we don’t want to offend people with our NO.


Let’s practice to say NO in some common and obvious situations but with a grace and in a very polite manner.

We all know that ignoring health issues may land us in grave situations.

Be a guest….but don’t sip the coffee just because they specially made it for you. Cut a sorry figure while saying that it fluctuates your blood pressure and make a request for a glass of water instead.

Just be strict when something sweet in taste is offered to you because it may increase the glucose level in your blood. Simply grab a salty snack or ask for something non-sugary.

*Got an invitation but dates are not favourable?

No problem..

Make it simple by saying.

“Thank you for the invite but I am not available on those dates.”


“I really want to be a part of it but unfortunately I am occupied on those dates.”

While saying this don’t forget to bring the smile for getting the invite and then expression of sadness for missing the opportunity.

If you don’t want to donate money to beggars, for religious beliefs, self claimed preachers or other unrecognised fund raising organisations ; stick to your guns. Soon people will learn to respect your boundaries.

For people like Mr Khanna –

“Sorry sir, not at this time. I am occupied. I am afraid I can’t.”

To your juniors and kids around –

Say friendly but a firm NO.

If you are a boss-

Better not to accept incomplete and shabby work. Once strict. Problems solved  for ever.

It’s not necessary everytime to use some words for denial. You can use your body language too. You may raise your eyebrows, twitch your lips, roll your eyes or simply shake your head gracefully in denial.

Not all requests require an answer.

I know it’s rude but believe me , a times it works well.

If not well or busy with some office or house renovation, make it public. Let everyone know that you have appointments with doctor or other concerned specialists.

This will help you to block the requests for the time being and you can concentrate on your health and other priorities.

Everybody knows that you are a good planner of family gatherings, picnics, shopping schedules and weekend trips.

You proved yourself so many times.

Let’s ask and give chance to other family members to help this time.

People sometimes will ask again and again after having a no from you. Don’t change your mind or lose your temper. Just smile, say no and go.

You might have noticed that some people around you always ask for your favours, without doing much in return.

I will strongly recommend to avoid such people.

I am not advocating the policy of showing reluctance everywhere and every time.

I am a huge advocate of helpfulness, kindness and truthfulness. But in some cases you have to be little creative with your denials.

Let’s try!!

If you are in a situation where you can not help a person but you really want to help.

Think hard.

Think about a suitable and genuine alternative and suggest the same.

You will feel good.

In some situations try to negotiate as in Mrs Chauhan’s case.

Shreya must tell her to divide the responsibility. Let Mrs Chauhan bring her daughter from  the crèche and Shreya will drop her to the granny’s house. By doing so , she can have ample time to take her lunch.

Sometimes you really want to help the other person but you have other priorities. Don’t feel bad about it.


You can buy some time.

In case something very important comes then don’t get panic or guilty, just reshuffle your priorities.

Sometimes you can also limit your commitment upto a comfortable level.

Just say,” Let me clearly tell you what I can do in this. I think that will be sufficient from my side  and rest I am sure you can manage well.”

What say…..

Isn’t it cool ?

Hope you have got some ideas to manage your life without being rude, secluded or unkind to the people around.

As I say you yourself are the best judge of your situations and actions. You are smart enough to handle them.

Good luck !!

It’s your life.

Live it.

And live with enthusiasm, grace and modesty.

Please do share your ideas of saying no with me too.

Take care!!