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Saying No

You know how we all feel obligated to explain ourselves every time we say no to something?

“I’d LOVE to come to your swanky thing where I’m required to make small talk with people I’ve never met this Friday, but I’m afraid I can’t. I have a, uh…racquetball-related conflict. You know how it is. Next time!”

It’s like somewhere along the line, someone made it mandatory to follow each no with an excuse. I blame politeness. The only reason I’m saying no is because I literally cannot say yes. If I could say yes, I would, because I like you and want you to like me. 

Turns out this actually isn’t a requirement. It is in fact okay to decline a request or invitation just because…you don’t want to. You don’t need to pretend you’re doing a different activity that will take the place of the activity that’s being suggested to you. There doesn’t need to be an activity. It’s okay to have free time.

Actually, free time is good. It’s healthy and will clear your mind for those times when you do have activities. If you ask me, your free time should be protected.

Give it a try. Instead of saying “no, because…,” just say “no.” People will probably look at you like you’re slightly crazy, but if you’re like me, they were already doing that anyway. You don’t need to explain why you won’t do something. You’re in charge of your time.


  1. “I’m an introvert, so I just don’t feel up to it” should be an acceptable reason to decline these invitations. Or, “I don’t consider making small talk with strangers a good use of my time. Life is short.” Ah, but what if these strangers buy your book and word of mouth gets others to buy it… then is it worth the investment of time and effort? (Can you imagine Emily Dickinson at a book signing or a launch party?)

    • It’s true, Carol – some people will understand it, some won’t. Hell, I still expect explanations when people tell me no. Putting the idea out there is just a part of the process.

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