How to say No

Saying no to things that conflict with our needs can help us preserve the time and energy needed to reach our goals


While many people worry that prioritizing our own needs is selfish, it can actually benefit our relationships.  When we say no in a way that considers our needs and the other person's needs, we can create feelings of trust and reduce conflict.

If you’re asked to do something that conflicts with your priorities and it doesn’t feel like a simple “No, thank you!” will do, use the steps below to effectively say no in a way that aims to protect your needs and preserve your relationship with the other person

  1. Describe the situation with neutral language. Be sure not to blame yourself or the other person. For example, “You never consider my feelings and always push food on me when I don’t want it!” is different then, “I appreciate that you’re offering me an extra slice of apple pie.”  

  2. Acknowledge the other person's perspective and/or what they probably want from the situation. For example, you might know that the person is really proud of the apple pie they made and wants to make sure you enjoy it. You could say "Your apple pie was so delicious" or "I'm so impressed that you made that from scratch!"

  3. Being as authentic as you feel comfortable, tell the person why you are saying no, clearly outlining what you need. For example, “I need to say no to a second serving because I am working on stopping when I feel  satisfied” or “I enjoyed my first piece so much and I want to just savor that. If I have more, it’ll feel like too much.”  

  4. If you’re saying no to an engagement or to a favor asked by someone you


Megan Schreier is a Senior Manager of Behavior Change Science Translation at WW. Megan’s expertise is in population behavior change. According to Megan, the most exciting part is ending every workday having learned something new. It could be a strategy that a member shared as their “key to success,” a new fact about mindset from scientific literature, or a deeper understanding around the different ways that people think from chats with colleagues. The best part? She gets to incorporate those fresh insights into her work at WW to create the best possible member experience.



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