How To Say No

Do you struggle to say no to people? You are not alone in this.  Some people find themselves stretched thin and hard-pressed for time, yet are unable to decline more demands on their time from others. These demands happen at work, within the family and from social networks. Feeling stressed and over extended can lead to burnout at work and otherwise.  So how do you say no?


Remind yourself you have a choice

After all it is your time and your life- hence the decision to commit to an activity, to volunteer, to do an extra shift, or to help a friend is yours too. You know best what other commitments, chores and events you have on your schedule. Declining a request for more of those is a conscious choice that you can make.

Prioritize yourself

You are the best person to take care of yourself. Everyone needs time to unwind and recharge.  You need time to think about your ever-changing priorities and goals in life. It’s easy to get lost in the humdrum of life and not take care of yourself. Make some time for yourself- to do what you love and what brings you joy. Say no to things that don’t.

Be gentle, but firm

You can be assertive without being rude or offensive. You can say no without hurting other people’s feelings. When you start prioritizing yourself, this gets easier. ‘I wish I could, I don’t have the time right now’, ‘Maybe we can try another time?’ or ‘ I would have loved to, if it were possible’.

Be direct

You do not need to make excuses. You get to make the choices for yourself. If a brunch, or an activity in your child’s life seems too much to squeeze in to your already packed schedule, politely decline. You are busy is reason enough.


Good luck!

Dr Sayanti Bhattacharya

Need help saying no? Please call us 

Dr. Sayanti Bhattacharya Sayanti Bhattacharya, MD, MS, is a board-certified adult psychiatrist at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Dr. Bhattacharya lends a wealth of experience in the treatment of anxiety, depression, sleep issues, memory problems, trauma-related stress disorders, and attention deficit disorders. She is also experienced working with people who have challenges with interpersonal communication, social anxiety, low self-esteem, overwhelming negative thinking, and sleep problems. She works with patients via both telemedicine and in person.

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