Saying yes when you mean No can be daunting. The next feeling that follows is the weight you just added on your shoulders. 

Saying No doesn't mean you are difficult, but there's a thin line between what you accept and your happiness. 

In this article, I'll address boundaries, standards, managing expectations, self-respect and the four types of people you need to know, so you can understand how best to respond to them. 

4 Categories of people  

You deal with different types of people every day from home to workplace, so, when you are faced with a request, you want to be able to identify who you are dealing with first clearly, so you know the right kind of NO approach to use. 

I have grouped them into four:

  1. Compulsive returnees 
  2. Competence seekers
  3. Users 
  4. Sweethearts 

The Compulsive Returnee

These set of people are the ones always in need of your assistance, and it's majorly about More and More, the more of your time you give to their request, the more they demand. 

Characteristics of a compulsive returnee

  1. They make you feel they are disadvantaged in tackling the given issue hence your input.
  2. they always have excuses
  3. they are subtly manipulators 
  4. they more often than not reciprocate your good deeds
  5. They are always in need of something from you 

The Competence Seeker

This set of people know what they want, and when the need arises for your expertise, they come calling/asking. Theirs is more about asking the right person for a crucial request. 

Characteristics of a Competence Seeker

  1. they acknowledge your expertise
  2. they understand standards
  3. they have regards for self-respect
  4. they can be very sensitive
  5. they are very demanding partly because they feel no one can attend to their requests better than you 


These are the craftiest of these bunch. They are good at identifying your capabilities/resourcefulness, and they latch unto it. With 'users', they don't have to work hard at getting you to say Yes cos they usually take their time to warm themselves up into your life.

Characteristics of Users

  1. they are patient, cos they know what the end goal is 
  2. they appear generous, in-kind, cash and whatever you can think of, and that's because 
  3. they are skilled manipulators 
  4. Unbeknownst to you, once they have you where they want, they lay so many expectations on you.
  5. they are very controlling 

The sweethearts

These group of people are majorly families and few super close friends. As families, we all need each other, and we lean on ourselves for support quite often, and that's fine cos that's what families do. With these set of people, they j.u.s.t Ask and trust you'll fit in their request someway, somehow into your schedule. (Lol, they sure will come for me on this one)

Characteristics of sweethearts

  1. their trust in you to be there is unbelievable 
  2. they feel it's naturally their right to ask
  3. they are 'annoyingly' manipulative but in a good way
  4. They don't give up on their request
  5. they take up your requests as well regardless of whether they feel like it or not 

 How to specifically Say No

Saying No to these 4 types of people will vary, and you will need to adjust your response accordingly. You want to consider the gravity of the request, the person's emotional state, your own schedule and responsibilities, and situations you both find yourselves. 

For example, saying NO to the 'sweetheart' type will require a different response to the 'competence seeker'. 

The bottom line is to say No in a polite way that doesn't create tension between both of you. So, here are four approaches to saying No. 

  1. Saying No without any reason
  2. Saying No with valid reasons 
  3. Saying No with some valuable suggestions 
  4. Buy some time to get back on your response. 

Steps on how to say No easily

how to say No
  1. Consider what is on the Line

Think about goals and priorities and see if saying Yes at that moment will cause you some set back in meeting your deadline. You also want to make sure no one is crossing the boundaries you've set up. remember saying yes to something means you are saying No to another thing and YOU should come first. (and nope that's not a selfish thought) 

  1. Buy Some Time

There are times when it is tough to make a decision right on the spot. So what you can do is buy some time for yourself to think through the request before you give an answer. Just communicate that you will get back once you have made up your mind. This is particularly helpful when dealing with a 'competence seeker'. They Love to get answers asap and to save yourself from being pressured or swayed into saying Yes, Ask for some time. 


Use some finesse and Politeness

If your answer is No after thinking things through, you want to approach this politely but not in a patronising way. Acknowledge that you appreciate being approached and then politely say no with your valid reasons. Next, you want to manage the recipient's feelings with some encouraging and positive words.   

If you Can't, suggest other options.

There are times when politely saying NO won't be received well. So if that happens, suggest alternatives and give some ideas. That way, the recipient will feel you aren't saying NO outrightly and that you care enough to share some valuable thoughts and ideas. 

Activate your boundaries

when you are dealing with people, your No needs to be a No and Yes must be yes, if you dilly dally, you will compromise your standard and might lose respect cos of your inability to make up your mind. 

Remember the first step? If you ignore your boundaries and say Yes to make the other person happy, your goals and priorities become unimportant and the longer they remain so, the longer it will take for you to reach your purpose. 

 Concluding Thoughts

Saying No is a gift you will enjoy both in your personal and professional life as it will help you focus and meet your goals without the distractions of taking other requests on board. 

You also want to check who you are dealing with (user, compulsive returnee, competence seeker, sweethearts) so you know how to say No accordingly. 

With all these been said, It is important to note that you can't possibly say No to every request, sometimes we get a breakthrough while attending to other people's request. So there's a lot to be said about saying YES and being there for others. The point to take here is, don't say Yes when you mean No and don't say Yes to anything that will affect meeting your deadline, Maintain your self-respect and Boundaries. 

I will love to know if you have said NO to any of the 4 types of people and how it played out—comment below.

About the Author Funmi

Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses. 

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