When NO is better than YES

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. – Mahatma Gandhi

Imagine a CD box with slots for 24 CDs. Your box is totally full of all your favourite albums. But then you see something that you want. You must take out one of the CDs in order to fit in the new one.

Time is like that CD box — a finite resource. There are only 24 hours available to be filled. When we say “Yes” to another project, another request, another errand we are saying “No” to something that we already have planned. It might be something you are happy to let go — giving up watching TV in order to read a new book — but sometimes you have to give up the time you spend meditating, making love, playing with your kids or sleeping.

Saying YES to something always means saying NO to something else.

So why do we automatically say “Yes” when people make requests of us?

Guilt — I said “No” last time so I had better say “Yes”

Desire to please — If I do this for her, then she will like/admire/respect me more

Fear of rejection — If I say “No” she’ll be upset and won’t talk to me

Feeling needed — She needs helping and I’m good at helping people

Path of least resistance — I’m too tired to get into an argument now, I’ll just do it to keep the peace

yes and no
So here are a few creative ways to say “No” and consciously choose to be in control of your time.

I’ll let you know — I need to see if there is room to move things around in my schedule. I’ll get back to you tomorrow

Soft no — I would love to help you out but I don’t have enough time to do a good job. I’m going to have to say no this time

Delegate — I can’t fit that in right now but maybe Jane can help you

Outsource — Oh I used to worry about that too, but now I pay someone to do it and it means I can go for a walk instead

Hard no (mmmmm hard) — Fuck off! (obviously not recommended for mothers, children, spouses or bosses)

PS — please don’t say sorry — managing your time efficiently is nothing to be sorry about.


Do you automatically say “Yes” without thinking about what you’ll have to give up in order to do another thing? How do you say “No”?

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

8 thoughts on “When NO is better than YES

  1. I say yes, too. I even read this because Chibi told me to. BUT. I am trying to say no more often, because I get overextended and then don’t do a very good job on anything, which leads me to feel bad about myself.

    1. Well I’m very happy that you did say YES in this particular instance. Thanks for stopping by (and don’t feel bad about yourself for anything — you’re awesome!)

  2. Love this and looking for the next available opportunity to tell someone to fuck right off.

    I have been prone to saying yes far too often. A “friend” of mine recently completely “did one” on me. Just to set the scene it was 6pm on a Sunday night. We’d had a lovely family roast dinner and between us myself and my husband were cleaning the dishes, getting our 3 kids ready for bed and sorting school bags, cleaning school shoes, making sandwiches and ironing uniforms and workish clothes for the week ahead. It was a slog but we were happily enjoying family time…when…

    The phone rings… this friend who I am going to call for these purposes “Needy Nelly” telephoned to tell me she had a migraine and was throwing up every 5 minutes..I mean come on…every 5 mins? Surely she would have been hospitalised? Nelly said that she had been going to cook her kids carbonara and could she send them round with the ingredients? “Yes of course Nelly!” I said. I mean WTF??? So her kids came round with free range eggs, organic cream, parmesan and bacon but I had to provide my own pasta. These kids are 13, 11 and 9 and could easily have made themselves a bastard sandwich or poured themselves some cereal. The worst thing was I had to google the recipe for carbonara as I didn’t know how to make it! The upshot was I was bitter and wasn’t authentic in telling Nelly “…to take a hike you needy cow and send the little scrots down the chippy” and ended up cooking for them washing up for them and setting my own needs and my families needs aside in the process. It caused me to be a martyr and feel bitter and now I barely speak to Nelly and in all honesty wasn’t nice to her kids when they were here. I wasn’t unpleasant but I WASN’t nice.

    Anyway – I’ll get the f*ck off your blog now with my diatribe but thanks for addressing the fact that sometimes it’s better for us to say NO NO NO!!!!!

    1. Classic story — “send the little scrots down the chippy” — your writing is so funny. Glad you figured out that an authentic NO makes everyone happier in the end (including the needy cow). Brilliant!

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