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It's Okay to Say No

a do not walk sign. It's okay to say no.

Author: Liz Frome

Why Do We Struggle With Saying No?

The power of saying no really comes down to the effects it has on our brains. I feel that when I constantly say 'yes,' it creates so much more stress. What I do now when I receive a request is ask to check my schedule and get back to the person I'm speaking to. (I make a note to ensure I respond in a timely manner.) When I do say yes, I make sure I do the following things:

  • Make sure I am organized so I can follow through with my commitment.

  • Check my calendar before committing to ensure I don't overextend myself.

  • If I need to cancel, I ensure I do so promptly to avoid being rude.

  • I reflect on my experience to determine if I enjoyed it or if I over-committed, to better inform my decisions next time.

  • When I'm with the people I've committed to, I ensure I'm fully present and not half-hearted.

Remember, saying 'no' shifts our brain's thinking and reactions, empowering us to make decisions and focus on valuing ourselves more.

Everybody can benefit from understanding why saying no is important in life. Humans are inclined to want to say yes in many situations, whether from a desire to not disappoint someone, or an overestimation of their own abilities.

In your job search it is important to not burn any bridges as it is a small community. The Job Shop has been in business for over 25 years, and we know a lot of people in the hiring roles. Please keep in mind it only takes a few minutes to communicate to your recruiter that you can’t do the job interview with the agency, the client they've matched you with, or the contract position, and any embarrassment you might have from doing so is far less impactful to your career goals than saying yes and no-showing would be.

There are many ways to communicate; a simple email or phone call promptly suffices without needing an excuse. The key is that you communicated responsibly, and that will leave the door open if you ever need that connection as a resource.

So, why do so many people have an issue telling someone else “no”? The truth lies not in the obvious – a need to please – but rather in the fact that some of us have the tendency to put others’ objectives above our own. Our inability to say “no” stems from the fact that we want to reassure and make others feel comfortable, and it is a notion we need to change. Being unable to say 'no' is unfair to both ourselves and the other person.

I understand it can be extremely hard to say no, but doing so more often provides significant benefits to your overall health, including setting healthy boundaries and upholding behavioral standards.

If the thought of saying no or saying no more often makes you feel uncomfortable; let's explore the common reasons behind saying 'yes.

Some of the Reasons We Say Yes:

Avoiding Confrontation

Very few people enjoy confrontation. When we feel as if saying no will put more pressure on us, we tend to say yes to prevent those feelings. Keep in mind that the pressure we feel is often self-imposed. Take a moment to reflect before committing and let the other party know you'll get back to them.

Pleasing Others

Many say 'yes' to please others. While it's natural to want to help, it's essential to recognize when we're doing it excessively.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

FOMO is very real, and when we feel as if saying no will prevent us from experiencing something we perceive others will, saying yes feels like the only option, even if it might not be in our best interests to do so.


Sometimes people feel naturally compelled to “overdo it” and say yes to any situation out of a compulsive nature.

Power of Saying No

When we say no more often, we shift the way our brain thinks and reacts to situations, allowing us the flexibility to make decisions for ourselves. This has a tremendous effect on our mental health, as it allows us to value ourselves more. It also helps us prioritize ourselves, and can even lead us to new opportunities that wouldn’t have been achievable by saying yes.

Tips To Learn to Say No

While adopting these thought processes will bring innumerable improvements to our daily lives, there will still be situations where saying 'yes' is appropriate. So how do we know exactly when to say no? How do we know if it feels right or wrong?

Learning to say 'no' involves self-reflection: Will saying 'yes' distract from higher priorities? Will it lead to burnout? These questions give us the structure for when it’s finally time to say no.

Recommended tips to help you learn to say no:

  • Rehearse Ask yourself questions and rehearse the way you wish to convey your point.

  • Be honest There is never a need to lie about why you are saying no.

  • Offer alternatives Sometimes providing another way to go about something can help prevent you from saying yes.

  • Do not rush You don’t need to say no to everything but give yourself time to think through the consequences of committing, and then properly give a response.

With recruiting we get a lot of people saying yes and then they do not show up for the interview or the assignment. Failing to say 'no' can lead to increased anxiety and difficulty in managing commitments.

The Job Shop would love to help you in your job search and keep in mind it is ok to say “No” with us!

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