The Gift of Saying No!

By on December 4, 2014
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By Melodee Currier –

I have no trouble saying no – and I don’t need to tell a little white lie to say it.

The turning point for me was when I was in my thirties.  I had over extended myself with obligations to the point that I actually had a mini breakdown.  That day was a major turning point for me.  I decided to stop everything I was doing except one responsibility at work – planning and chairing monthly social activities for two thousand employees.  And I’ve been happily saying no ever since.

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When you say no to projects you’d rather not do, favors you don’t want to grant, invitations you don’t want to accept, relationships you’d rather not be in, doctors you don’t want to continue seeing, items you’d rather not let others borrow, you give yourself the gift of time and peace of mind.  When you say no to others, you are saying yes to yourself.

One of my first jobs was working as a temporary secretary for a large advertising agency in New York City.  On my first day at work the two executives I worked for threw their money on my desk and ordered me to get their cigarettes and then make a stop at the bank for one of them.  That evening I decided I wasn’t going to run their personal errands again.  When I arrived at my desk the next day, as expected, they threw their money on my desk for their cigarettes.  This time I said “No!”  After about fifteen minutes one of them asked me to come into his office.  He said if I was serious about not getting his cigarettes, I could leave.  I left and never went back.  Job or no job, I felt empowered.

I’m a list maker and particularly fond of pros and cons lists.  I had been dating a guy for several weeks, but there were things about him I didn’t like.  So I decided to make a list of pros and cons about him.  When I finished the list, I was amazed to see there were four pros and forty cons.  It was obvious at that moment that I needed to end the relationship.  Not surprisingly, he was shocked when he called me later that day and I told him I decided to break up with him.  I never regretted saying no to that relationship.

Working overtime is something I have never encouraged.  I was employed at my last job for over ten years and only spent thirty minutes working overtime.  Some people have a pattern of working long hours at work, but not me.  I guess they either need the overtime money, can’t do their job in an eight hour day or they view working overtime as job security.  I have seen people waste time chatting all day only to rack up overtime hours.  While some overtime might be necessary, having a life outside work is crucial.

When I saw that a friend was exhausted by doing too much for other people, I told her she needed to say no to their requests.  I told her my “mini breakdown” story and soon she started saying no too.  Now she’s happily doing only what she wants to do and tells people they should take my “class on how to say no.”

I don’t advise everyone to say no.  I am related to someone who helps everyone around the clock with whatever they ask her to do.  She doesn’t have any boundaries and is in react mode from the moment she wakes up.  She continually looks for people (and animals) to help in her neighborhood, school and church.  And she double books herself all day.  It’s not surprising that her face is always bright red from being stressed.  When her husband comes home from a physically hard day at work, she sends him out for pizza because she’s too tired from helping everyone else.  Telling her to say no is a waste of time.

Recently I went to a new doctor who prescribed a medication for me I knew was on Mayo Clinic’s “don’t take” list.  When I mentioned this to him, he went on a tirade insisting it was safe.  Because of his unprofessional attitude and the fact that I couldn’t trust him, I said no to the medication and will not return to his office.

Every day people do things they don’t want to do just because they are afraid to say no.  Life is too short to spend your precious time doing something just because you feel you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.  So don’t!  Your time is valuable — spend it as you wish.


You can read more of Melodee’s published articles at her website:

About Melodee Currier

Melodee Currier lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Doug and two Siamese cats, Suki and Seiko. She left corporate America in 2008 where she worked as an intellectual property paralegal. Since then she has devoted her time to writing and has had numerous articles published on a wide variety of topics. Her Website:

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The Gift of Saying No!