How to Say Yes When You Mean No!

There are times when it is very easy to say NO.

If someone asks you to bungee jump off Victoria Falls then saying NO is easy (unless you actually want to do it).

If a police officer asks you would you like to receive a speeding fine then it is exceptionally easy to say NO.

However, saying NO can sometimes be difficult when it involves family or friends. Perhaps on these occasions it is appropriate to say YES when you mean NO.

Let me explain what I mean.

If a friend invites you to a party and you find it difficult to accept the invitation because of other commitments then you could respond something like this…

Friend: I’m going to the party on Saturday night will you come with me?

You: YES, I’d absolutely love to but unfortunately I’ve got an assignment that just has to be finished and I need to focus on it this weekend.

Learning to be assertive is very important in dealing with stress. You can be assertive in many positive ways.

Hopefully this technique will provide you with another option.

Here are some more examples:

“Can you come to our planning meeting this afternoon?”

YOU: “YES, I’d love to but I have another meeting which I need to attend so I’m not going to be able to participate in yours”


“We are going to be fund-raising over the weekend and need more collectors. Would you be able to assist?”

YOU: “YES, I would be delighted under normal circumstances but I promised my children I would take them to the beach”


“Would you have time to complete our survey. It will only take a few minutes”

YOU: “YES, I enjoy doing surveys but you have really caught me at a busy time so please accept my apology at this time”

2 Comments

  1. woh!.. Thank you for sharing this wonderful website.

  2. This is the same idea as “the positive no”. I’m not quite sure what it is about society today that we can’t just say “No” and leave it at that. Why do we have to somehow make the other person *feel* like we really want to say yes even though we have to say no.

    Frankly, it’s usually none of the other persons business why you are saying no. Maybe you have another commitment, maybe you are tapped out, maybe you just don’t want to. We should all have the freedom to say “yes” or “no” without being scrutinized.

    In my opinion, the problem is not *how* we say no. The problem is people receiving the answer need to grow up and accept the answer at face value, without trying to attribute any deeper meaning to the answer.

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John Townsend

My name is John Townsend and I have been working as a Stress Management Consultant since 1986. My seminar, Get Tough With Stress, has been presented to thousands of people throughout the world and shows people how to toughen up to stress and to transform stressful experiences into valuable learning experiences.

My clients include many of Australia’s largest companies plus Australian Government Departments and agencies. One of my greatest personal joys was to present my Get Tough With Stress programme to staff of the Australian Parliament.

Over the past 15 years I have been presenting to large numbers of Chief Executive Officers through an organisation called The Executive Connection (TEC). I have been privileged to receive the highest honours bestowed on speakers by TEC, an organisation dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and enhancing the lives of Chief Executives.

Follow John on LinkedIn: townsend-international-pty-ltd

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