3-Step Guide on When & How to Say NO

Ever been stressed out because you don’t have enough time for yourself due to saying YES to everyone?

I’ve observed that everyone eventually experiences this because it’s normal for us as human beings to want to please everyone. Some of us have learnt that pleasing everyone never works and we’ve learnt when and how to say NO.

Here are 3 checks that I go through before I make a YES or NO decision:

1. Is it important to me?

As a productive human being, you’re not expected to do everything by yourself therefore you’re given a specific set of responsibilities to fulfil. For example, if you’re a student, your studies come first.

So the first question you have to ask yourself before making a YES or NO decision is “Is it a part of my responsibilities?”

The more time you spend on activities that are not a part of your responsibilities, the less time you’ll have for the important things that you actually need to get done.

Sometimes, the decision could be 50/50. It might not be directly related to what you need to do but you see the benefits of saying YES. If so, the next questions will help you.

2. Do I have enough Time and Energy for it?

If the request is important enough for you to consider it but not as important as other things you need to do, ask yourself this second question.

If you believe that it will definitely help you to say YES but you won’t have enough Time and Energy to get it done, you should either say NO or choose a third option.

The third option is to say YES but with CONDITIONS. If the request is flexible and you can make a deal that gives you more time to get it done, go for this option. Here’s an example:

“Okay, I’ll do it but you need to give me a bit more time because I’ve got quite a bit of work that needs to be completed and I’m on a deadline.”

I’ve bolded the last part because giving a proper reason why you need to make that deal is very important as it helps people understand you and be more tolerant of the conditions.

3. Are there any long term benefits?

Usually, you would only need to ask the first two questions to help you make a decision. However, some requests are more complicated as their benefits may be long term rather than immediate. In these cases, you’ll need to ask yourself this third question.

If saying YES could:

  • Help you with your responsibilities in the future
  • Build a valuable social connection
  • Provide you a reward that comes later but is bigger in value

Then you should definitely consider saying YES but only you know your own circumstances and your limitations so think carefully and make a smart decision.


Time is money so if you’re good at something, never do it for free.


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