How to say 'No' like a grown up.

Have you got the disease to please?

If you’ve started looking for a rash, stop and instead, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you the one hosting family events and elaborate Christmas dinners?
  • Did you agree to babysit your second-cousin-twice-removed’s daughter?
  • Do you frequently hang up the phone and say, ‘Damn it, why did I agree to that?’
  • Do you have a physical reaction to saying the word ‘no’
  • Does your inner voice scream “No” but your lips say “Yes”?

If you’re plagued by any of the above, we’re here to help.

Psychiatrist Judith Martin joined The Well this week to give us a much-needed lesson in saying no, without feeling like a jerk.

While Robin Bailey is in recovery from being a “yes” woman, Rebecca Sparrow still can’t say no to her family… or anyone really.

“With my family, I am the martyr. I say yes to everything. I am the person walking around muttering angrily,” she admits.

Judith says for most of us, boundaries have to be learned. So if you haven’t got it figured out just yet, that’s okay.

Watch: The Well’s guide to saying no (without looking like a jerk.) Post continues below. 

She says the first step is developing self awareness.


So basically, call yourself out. You don’t want to volunteer at your child’s school. Stop trying to kid yourself, it never ends well.

“You just feel irritable and angry and there’s no particular reason why you should but it just doesn’t feel right what you’re doing.”

Sound familiar? Judith says this is one of those times when you probably should have said no.

It might sound silly but Judith says pre-planned sentences are a people pleaser’s best friend.

Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Bailey.

"I'd really like to help you but..." is just asking for trouble, because it always turns into "Oh, you know what, I can do that."

"You must say 'No' and you must put a full stop on the end of it," says Judith.

It's all in the confidence.

Practice with me, grab a mirror if you have to. 'NO.' Easy peasy!

Need something more concrete? Here's one Judith prepared earlier:

'I'd really love to help you but I just don't have capacity right now.'

Hallelujah! You've just said no, guilt-free.

The Well is the podcast about the head, the heart, and the happiness of life. You can listen in itunes or Soundcloud.