Life + Work

9 Times It’s Okay to Say No

Raise your hand if you have at any point felt bad about saying ‘no’ to someone. Now, I can’t actually see if your hand is raised, but I can pretty much assume that all of you have it waving high in the sky. Because, as I know all too well, sometimes it is just so freakin’ […]

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9 Times It's Okay to Say No

Raise your hand if you have at any point felt bad about saying ‘no’ to someone.

Now, I can’t actually see if your hand is raised, but I can pretty much assume that all of you have it waving high in the sky. Because, as I know all too well, sometimes it is just so freakin’ hard to say no. We feel bad about it. We feel negative. We feel like people will judge us, call us assholes, jerks, uncooperative, all of the above.

But hey – I’m not judging. God, no. I was the WORST when it came to uttering that small, two-letter word. I was that person that would go to the cash register with an item, find out it’s extortionately priced and STILL buy it because I felt bad about saying “Um what? No thanks.” If an acquaintance asked for help with a project, I’d be all, “Yeah, I can totally help you out with that,” even though I was already one hour away from pulling an all-nighter.

I’m getting better, though. Much better. The older I get and the longer I work for myself, the more comfortable I am saying ‘no’ to things. Weekly events, coffee catch-ups, bridal showers – sometimes the things that are asked of us take up a lot of time, money and effort. And even though last year was my Year of Yes, I’ve also discovered there are times in both life and work when it’s totally okay to say no and not feel guilty about it.

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9 Times It's Okay To Say No

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1 When someone asks you to share a contact.

This is for all the freelancers, bloggers, PR peeps and entrepreneurs out there – it’s okay to be protective of your contacts. Hell, you’ve worked hard for them and they’re worth their weight in gold. So it’s okay to say ‘no’ if a fellow blogger asks you for a PR contact or if a designer friend asks for a client’s contact – if that contact is a source of income for you, sharing it can result in jobs being given to someone else instead. But also, your name becomes attached to the person that asked, and sharing contacts could give the impression that you vouch for them and their skills/work ethic. It’s okay to just politely decline and say that you don’t feel comfortable sharing other peoples’ contact info without their permission.

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2 When a friend asks to borrow money.

Money is sticky business when it comes to friends, especially if it’s a big chunk of change. This one obviously can differ depending on your relationship, the situation at hand or how much money you have lying around, but even if you are flush with cash, that’s YOUR choice. Don’t ever feel pressured to lend someone money just because you have it. Because if you see that friend going out for dinner or getting a mani before they’ve paid you back, you’re gonna be salty AF.

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3 When someone asks you to work for product.

This has come up a lot recently in my line of work, and it never gets less frustrating. Whilst I will at times trade content for amazing experiences (travel, VIP events, etc), it is absolutely not okay for a brand to expect you to create content for them and pay you in product. If someone comes to you and says, “Hi, I found you through Instagram and love your photography style – we’d love for you to shoot our new campaign and we’ll give you $500 worth of product,” you can just crack those knuckles and get to hitting the keyboard with a big ol’ NO THANK YOU. That same person would never go into a retailer or doctor’s office and try to pay with product for a service, so why is your time and skill any less valuable? It’s not.

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4 When the cashier asks you to donate to charity.

No one wants to be that person that says ‘no’ to donating money to a children’s hospital or veteran’s charity – you can basically hear everyone around you whispering: ‘HEARTLESS’. But shit adds up when you slide a buck or two every time you’re at the grocery store or a cool $20 every time a friend asks you to help them fundraise for a marathon. I’m a big advocate of giving back and supporting charity, but I also usually do that in big chunks to select causes – don’t feel like you need to give $2 to the Red Cross every single time you pick up food for dinner just because you’re scared of someone judging you if you don’t.

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5 When someone asks for a coffee date to ‘pick your brain’.

Say it with me now: ‘Time + knowledge = money’. I get a lot of e-mails asking to meet for coffee for branding advice or tips on how I got to where I am in my career. At first, I used to say yes every single time. But then I realized that these meetings not only took up hours of my day, but that my 10 years of experience and advice are worth more than a cup of coffee. Instead of sending back a flat-out ‘no’, I now offer my time and advice for an hourly fee, during which time the blogger or small business owner can ask me anything they want.

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6 When you’re asked to attend a work function after hours.

Sure there are industries where you’re expected to work outside of the daytime grind (PR, media, etc.). But if you regularly work 9-to-5 and your salary is based on those hours, that’s all the time you’ve gotta give, girl. It’s more than necessary to have a life outside of work and if you have other plans, whether it be a friend’s birthday or doctor’s appointment, you shouldn’t feel bad for saying ‘no’ to after-work drinks with the boss or attending a partner’s gala event.

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7 When a friend invites you to their destination wedding.

I struggle with this so much because I am not a massive fan of destination weddings and the obligation put on people to attend. First of all, someone is asking you to spend your precious vacation time at a destination and hotel chosen by them with their family and friends. Secondly, you have to PAY for it. So no one should ever make you feel guilty for saying no to their ‘special day’ in Bermuda. You’ve got your own life going on, and that includes bills and rent and saving cash. Unless it’s my sister or my very best friend, chances of me coming to your destination wedding are slim to none unless you’re known for throwing one helluva party.

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8 When someone asks you to be a reference.

Have you ever run into this situation? Basically when a friend (or acquaintance) asks you to refer them for a job where you have an ‘in’…. even if you’ve never worked with this person before or personally don’t think their skills are up to snuff. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. But it’s the same as sharing contacts – when you put your name to something, you attach your knowledge and opinion to that recommendation. So if it doesn’t work out or that person turns out to be batshit crazy, it reflects poorly on your judgment. Just say no, kids.

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9 Whenever you gaddamn want.

Because at the end of the day, we shouldn’t be afraid to say ‘hell no’ to anything that’s not in our best interest. There are ways to say no graciously, respectfully and professionally, and no one should ever make you feel guilty for sticking to your guns and looking out for #1.

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What do you have a hard time saying ‘no’ to?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Renee says:

    Lol I struggle with this all the damn time. I agree with all of the points you touched on…now to just actually say the word!

    • Lauren | This Renegade Love says:

      Haha, I hear ya girl! It really is hard to say for fear of judgment, but you always need to ask what is in YOUR best interest.

  2. Carmy says:

    I love this so much. It’s always a fine line to walk when you’re asked to share your contacts or are asking. I usually try not to put someone in the that position but at the same time, I believe that rising tide lifts all boats. At times it might be beneficial to share if it means you can all bargain together.

    • Lauren | This Renegade Love says:

      I totally agree, Carmy. If a good friend asks for a contact and I know they ALSO have my best interests at heart (and know that they’d return the favour if I ever asked), I have no problem sharing or even recommending them. But there are loads of times when that request is coming from someone I don’t know that well (or worse, not at all!), and for those I have no problem saying no.

  3. Sue Jordan says:

    Can I get a HELL YES?!

    Every single point, I’m nodding like a pupper here ?

  4. Nidhi says:

    Ah! To the point, loved the Post!

  5. Tanya says:

    Whenever I get stuck in that awkward moment at the register when they ask me if I would like to donate to…I just smile and say, “I’ve already donated, thank you”, and then they smile and thank me for doing that. I too have my own causes I support, so technically I am being honest when I say I’ve donated, they just don’t know it’s to another charity. What a great article Lauren – I totally agree, as I get older it’s easier to decline certain requests I never would have dreamed of saying no to before. And if I am the recipient of that no, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers one bit – I would rather someone be straight up and honest with me than be a Debbie Downer at an event I’ve worked really hard at planning or resent me for making them feel undervalued.

  6. Thuy says:

    Love. Truth. It’s funny how these things can be viewed as, “Bitchy.” It also reminds me of not giving people freebies in school because they skipped class. Like hoe, do you work.

    http://www.dressupchowdown.com

  7. Haha girl you’re awesome. This post is so key. Since i’m frugal AF, if i find something is priced more than i expected i have NO problem putting it back.
    my big problem to saying no is when friends say to me “we should workout together!” I’m always down for a workout, butttt I also charge to train clients. Just cause we’re friends doesn’t mean you should get a free 1 hour session with me dictating the entire workout!

    • Lauren | This Renegade Love says:

      Haha yeah my Scottish father will likely read this and have a heart attack at that comment. That would be super frustrating – different if it’s a friend in the same industry who genuinely likes working out with a partner, but when it’s someone who rarely hits the gym and you would be teaching rather than working out together…. pfffft, girl bye.

  8. Jessica says:

    Loved this post (since I just learned this lesson recently). We need to remind ourselves (especially as sweet ol’ Canadians) that our skills are valuable. Even more importantly, I think we should also learn how to accept a ‘no’ when someone says it to us. I like when you mentioned the value of our time. A lot of people think those who work in the creative industry (videographers, photographers, writers, web designers, etc) will do work for no moola, but it’s just not the case. We didn’t pay thousands in tuition to amp our skills and work for free. GAH! Love your blog girl, keep up the great work! 🙂

  9. Yep! As I get older, I feel zero regret for saying no to thinks I dont want need or desire! Love this post!

  10. Cassandra says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear right now! Thanks girl! Love the blog!

  11. Dana says:

    I loved this article! Seriously, saying no used to be my weakest point until I found myself CONSTANTLY apart of things that were just taking up my time because I was too afraid to say no.

  12. Joella says:

    Awesome read and as always love your honesty. I say no to the grocery store charity question all the time, which may make me sound like heartless person to the people behind but I’ve done charity drives myself and donated in both cash and kind. And I’m happy with that! And would happily pay to receive advice from you any day!

    • Lauren | This Renegade Love says:

      Isn’t it crazy how we feel the need to donate to everything because of how we feel others will think of us? I used to ALWAYS say yes at the grocery store and then I realized half the time I didn’t even know what I was donating to! I’d much rather donate after doing research on where my money’s going.

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I'm a Brand & Content Strategist with 15 years of experience in helping businesses craft their brand story and build trust through authentic storytelling.

I'm Lauren, the creator of This Renegade Love and your new brand BFF.

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