You Can Grow Your Ability To Say "No"

Aug 31, 2022

Did you know?

You can build up your ability to say no and be assertive. It is not something that some people are born with, and others "don't have." It is a practice. It is a muscle that can be strengthened and grown.

It's also true that some people are born with personality traits, or have early learning experiences that make it a lot easier for them to say no. For example, if someone is extroverted and got a lot of positive feedback for saying no early on, then they probably don't struggle to say no now.

For others, those of us who are more sensitive to people's feelings, self-critical, or who learned early on that "saying no is bad" - saying no is probably a lot harder and less natural.

BUT that doesn't mean it isn't changeable!

It just means you'll need a little help getting that learning that saying no is okay (more than okay actually, life-changing, freeing, and awesome). Indeed, I have worked with thousands of people over the past decade, teaching them how to say no. And with repeated, regular practice, this is a skill that can be learned like anything else.

Not easy. But doable.

And one cool thing that happens, is once you start saying no (perhaps in very small ways at first), you'll start to get all this new data. You'll start to have so much new learning about what happens when you say no. Some of the most important pieces of learning that people who I've worked with report are:

1) You can tolerate the anxiety you feel before and during saying no.

2) The anxiety you feel before and during saying no usually improves with practice.

3) Others don't always respond negatively to you saying no, in fact, many people will be supportive and respectful.

4) Even if someone does respond poorly to your no, you will learn you can handle it.

In sum, the ability to say no is not a fixed trait, but a capacity that everyone can build out. While it may be harder for some folks than others, anyone can practice saying no to things that are not right for them. And with repeated practice, it really does get easier. 

For step-by-step guidance from me on how to STOP People-Pleasing, join my comprehensive online course.