5 Real Ways to Purposefully Say “No”: An Introvert’s Manifesto

No one wants to be a Debbie-downer, the “no” person in the group.


We all love to hear and say yes. Yes usually means more opportunity, adventure, and fun. When you say yes, other people are happier too.


Most of us have a hard time saying no. Whether you find yourself in the people pleasing camp or the word alone is enough to stress you out, you’re not alone.  


I actually used to be really good at saying no but a few years into post-grad life, I had a bad habit of taking on more than I could handle at the time.


In this overwhelming culture of ‘busy’ and ‘24/7 hustle’, I thought the only way to get ahead in life was to sacrifice my own desires to follow the path I “should” be taking.


All the “shoulds” left me exhausted, isolated, and weighed down. Wasn’t I supposed to feel energized and accomplished instead?


This story is far too familiar for most of us.


As introverts, it’s more important than ever that we learn how to say no.


Not only is it okay to say no at work, in conversations with our spouse, or in response to our family and friend’s requests, but it’s essential in our own personal development.


You may need to say no to doing extra work. Maybe it’s saying no to another recital, pick-your-brain coffee date, or whatever people are trying to get you to do that feels out of alignment.  


It’s okay to alleviate your plate if it feels too heavy to carry.


It’s okay to need an evening to yourself. (Hello, introvert’s paradise!)


It’s okay to use your vacation time to actually go on vacation and unwind.


Saying “no” will give you the space to say “yes” to the right opportunities.


To help you dip your toes into this surprisingly positive world of “no”, here’s 5 different ways to get comfortable with the word “no”:


“That will be a no from me.”

There’s no need to beat around the bush. With this tone, it’s almost as if you’re negotiating something outside of yourself so your “no” won’t be taken personally. It just is.


If this feels a bit too final, you can always follow it up with saying something like “This doesn’t fit my schedule right now”. That way you keep the door open if you think it may interest you down the road while still drawing a clear line in the sand for what you can currently take on.



Yes, I am channeling my inner Whitney. Sometimes you need to be explicit (in more ways that one) with how much you aren’t interested in an opportunity. Of course, I’d suggest to read the room beforehand and make sure it’s said to the right audience.


“Sorry, my dog/cat needs me.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve used this a few times! The looks I get afterward are priceless too so that’s enough reason on its own to try it out.


With a pet, sometimes you can’t make a 5 PM coffee date work because of their eating schedule. Although this whole excuse may sound silly, you can use the same principle for the responsibilities you have to your spouse, kids, or even yourself.


“The voices in my head can’t agree on that.”

If you’re the witty one in your friend group, this will be a good “no” to have in your back pocket. It helps people know that you have a little inner battle going on inside you on whether or not you want to say “yes”. It shows you care while having a great sense of humor about it. You can follow this up with a hard “no” or a “not right now” to give your final answer.


“I wish I could, but I can’t.”

Honesty is always the best policy, but only say this if you really do wish you could say yes to the opportunity. Otherwise that person could later on ask you the same thing and you’ll have to find a new way to say no. This is a great one to start with if you want to learn how to lightly say no.


Still having a hard time saying no without all the guilt?

I’ll help you build up your “no” muscle with my (shiny new) free 5 lesson email challenge on Getting Back to Your No: Taking Back Your Time One Decline at a Time, complete with actionable exercises and real, hilarious stories on learning to own the word “no”.


Align your declines with your personality and desires.

Join my Free Email Course: Getting To Your No


How have you learned to say no? What is your favorite way to say no? Let me know in the comment section below. (So much rhyming there!)