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How to say no without guilt


I was sitting at my desk sipping a cup of coffee minding my business (literally) when the telephone rang. I answered it and it was one of those great calls I love to receive. It was Cindy Krischer Goodman, a reporter for the Miami Herald, asking me about one of the Days I had recently published. My good friend Pat Morgan had shared the Day with Cindy and she has put it on her blog, The Work Life Balancing Act. I read Cindy’s blog because she has great tips and ideas on how to stay sane!

For those of you visiting from Cindy’s blog, welcome. I have posted the article Cindy mentioned on her blog both for you and my regular visitors.

Live the Day,


How To Say No Without Guilt

Saying no comes hard to a lot of people. There are lots of reasons why people have a difficult time saying no. They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, they feel pressured or obligated, or they don’t think saying no is an option. There are ways to say a positive no without feeling guilty about it.

The truth is people respect those that have clear and strong boundaries. Over committing is a sign of weak boundaries and low self esteem. If you allow people to take advantage of you, they will. You have the right and responsibility to protect your time and your energy. If you are not sure if you want to commit to a request, tell the person you need time to think about it. Doing this allows you to check your other commitments and think about how the new task will fit in. If it doesn’t, get back with the person and let them know you won’t be able to commit.

Keep in mind that every time you commit to doing something you don’t want to do, you are giving up the time and energy to do what is important to you. After a period of over committing, you will become resentful and unhappy, and it will show. Instead, be honest and up front. Don’t say yes when you want to say no. This way you will limit the commitments that you make and you will be able to keep them without being overwhelmed and bitter. You are allowed to determine how you will spend your time.


It is difficult to say no when you are in the habit of saying yes. To get use to the concept, practice saying no as often as possible. If you decide that you really want to say yes you can always change your mind.

You don’t have to feel guilty about saying no. When you set strong boundaries you will actually get more respect, for both you and your time.

Coaching Question

Are you ready to protect your time and energy?

Live the Day

Today, just for fun, see how many times you can say no. Notice how it feels to take control of your time and energy.


“The Power of a Positive No,” by William Ury, PhD


“Have the courage to say no.” W. Clement Stone

“Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” John C. Maxwell

“Saying yes and no clearly builds confidence and rids us of the misconception that we are powerless.” Philip E. Humbert

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