Sarah Knight is the internationally bestselling ‘anti-guru’ and author of the No F**ks Given Guides, a self-help series that includes The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k and her most recent entry, F**k No!: How To Stop Saying Yes When You Can’t, You Shouldn’t, Or You Just Don’t Want To.
Her books have been published in more than 30 countries and her TEDx Talk, ‘The Magic of Not Giving a F**k’, has six million views and counting.
After leaving her corporate job as a book editor in New York City in 2015, Sarah moved to the Dominican Republic where she now resides with her husband and two feral rescue cats, Gladys Knight and Mister Stussy. You can learn more about Sarah and her books, and sign up for the No F**ks Given Newsletter, at .
It’s a pleasure to host an excerpt from F**k No! and you can win a copy via Rafflecopter below.
Over to Sarah..
Different Nopes for Different Folks
Saying this two-letter, one-syllable word causes so many of us so much more grief than it should—which is why I devoted an entire 300-plus page book to defanging and destigmatizing it, and teaching people how to say it with confidence. And more importantly, without guilt.
Here are four simple strategies to get you started:
The Hard No
Simple, direct, and non-negotiable. This could be a straightforward No, a more pleasant No thank you, or a slightly more explicatory Sorry, I don’t have time/can’t make it/can’t afford it. In any event, your content and delivery will imply that this is the end of the conversation.
Example: If your neighbor Ken asks if you’d be interested in helping him clean out his septic tank on Saturday, try saying “Nope. Next question?” Ken will be either so flustered or so impressed by your shock-and-awe approach, I guarantee he’ll drop it like it’s hot sewage.
Don’t confuse this with a wishy-washy “maybe”—we do not leave our friends, family, and colleagues dangling like goddamn participles. However, if you want or need to decline now, but don’t necessarily wish to close off an opportunity for fun or profit later, this is your no, Joe.
Example (for fun): Your friends are setting up a beach timeshare this summer and it’s out of your price range, but you can already feel the FOMO settling in like canned rosé at the bottom of the cooler.
Instead of a Hard No, you could say “I’d love to get in on this, but I can’t afford it. If you promise to ask me again next year, I’ll start saving now and get the first case of La Croix for the house.” This way, you don’t blow your budget, your friends understand that you’d like another chance (for which you can prepare), and who knows—maybe someone will invite you as a weekend guest, no string bikinis attached.
Example (for profit): The family you dog-sit for has to leave town suddenly and they wonder if you’re available. Unfortunately, you have a big test to cram for and this is a really bad time for you to be driving three towns over to walk Nigel the hyperactive husky three times a day.
Still, you’re afraid to say no and potentially lose the gig going forward. So…maybe you should just tell them that? As in, “Shoot, I can’t do it this time, but I hope I’ll still be your first call in the future—I really love that crazy canine and I’d hate to lose the job over one scheduling snafu!”
The Professional No (The Pro No)
Sprinkle phrases like As it happens and Upon consideration and I’m afraid that’s unfeasible into your emails—or, for higher degree of difficulty, learn how to say them in the moment, in person, and with a straight face.
Example: A client asks if you can have their project completed two weeks ahead of schedule. If that is in fact unfeasible (or simply unappealing), you can say “Dear Eleanor, I’ve reviewed your file, and upon consideration, it will not be possible to accelerate the timeline. I will certainly update you if that changes, but please expect to hear from me no later than our original deadline.”
Did you know you can say no to one thing but offer an alternative thing THAT YOU PREFER? Indeed you can, Stan! The No-and-Switch is also useful when you want to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, or when you actually do want to do something with or for them—just not in the specific manner or time frame that they originally suggested.
Example (at work): A client asks if you can have their project completed two weeks ahead of schedule. And you could . . . if you get compensated accordingly.
In your best Pro No vernacular, say “Dear Eleanor, I’m afraid it won’t be possible to accelerate this timeline under the same terms we’ve agreed to. However, if you are able to increase the project budget by ten percent, I can allocate more resources to speed up completion. Please let me know within 48 hours if that is acceptable and otherwise, expect to hear from me no later than our original deadline.”
Example (at play): A super-social pal often invites you to get in on urban scavenger hunts and group-discount seats for amateur football league games. You love your friend and feel bad saying no all the time, but you don’t love all the chaos that comes with multi-person outings of this nature. You could say “Thanks for inviting me! I have to pass on [activity], but I was wondering if you and I could get together someday soon? It would be great to catch up, just the two of us!”
BONUS: The Power No
Less widely applicable than the preceding prototypes, but an equally sound solution under the appropriate circumstances, the Power No is when you issue no reply at all.
For example, I use it on strangers who slide into my DMs, wait less than a day for a response, and then send a follow-up note like “I guess you don’t reply to your supporters.”
Well, now I don’t!
Or when someone asks for third time about something that I already said a polite no to twice. I just . . . stop responding. It’s like ghosting, but for all the right reasons.
Finally, the Power No is ideal for use on people trying to worm their way back into your good graces. It’s not always easy to tamp down the impulse to chastise a pest or defend yourself from unfair accusations—believe me, I know—but getting uppity provides little short-term satisfaction with the potential for a lot of long-term aggravation.
Whereas, if you deploy a Power No, you get to win a fight without even having it.
Don’t miss my interview with Sarah Knight in my Wonderful Women series.
You can also win a copy of Sarah’s latest book below.
Ends 3rd March 2020.
No cash alternative.
If the winner does not respond within 7 days of the email being sent, a new random winner will be selected.