How to Stop Being Too Nice. Saying No, When You Want to Say No

by Aileen

smart opinionated and fabulous podcast logoAre you too nice?  Being too nice to others often means we’re not being nice to ourselves. It can lead to us to feeling like a doormat, and resenting others.

I’ll never forget how angry I felt when a well-known acting teacher I had for class at  NYU said to me, “people tend to walk on you when you tend to lie down” I felt angry, mortified, embarrassed. I begged the department to leave that class and move into another one. This teacher would have me run and get him water or coffee during class, he’d have me doing the lights and tech, and when it was my turn for my scene work, he’d say ‘oh we’re out of time. Sorry Eileen.” (He wouldn’t even pronounce my name correctly). I wanted to cry, felt like I was being such a good student, and yet I wasn’t being treated like the other students. I was too nice, and I lost out on the class work. Eventually I found the courage to stand up to him and say “no, someone else can get your coffee and run the lights. It’s my turn to work on my scene work with you.”

Have you ever wanted to say ‘no’, but said ‘yes’ anyway? Maybe it was out of guilt, or obligation, or just an old habit of being too nice.

While saying ‘no’  is something that comes easily to some, it’s something that others need to practice, and learn to become more assertive. It’s not strange that those who have a habit of saying yes, when they don’t want to, also have a hard time getting “yes” out of others. Not to fear, this is something you can change.

In this episode, we talk how you can say ‘no’ and feel good about it, and how you can get to ‘yes’ on something that you really want. 

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We look at some of the root causes that compel us to say ‘yes’ all the time? We examine reasons that we give up before getting to yes on something that really matters to us?

We explore these topics in a fun and empowering manner. We share our own stories, and give you plenty of strategies to tackle each one in your life.

It’s Episode #4 of the Smart, Opinionated and Fabulous podcast,  Show Notes:

1. How you should learn to set expectations, even with your own family and friends, so that you develop new habits and stay true to yourself.

2. Simple, effective and practical tips that you can put to use right now on how to say no professionally.

3. How to manage that ultimate feeling of guilt when you feel like saying no.

4. The one reason we end up saying yes all the time to our family and friends and even to our bosses, and how to stop it. Why it’s a mistake to say yes all the time in your career.

5. Learning to put boundaries on other people’s expectations, special tips on how to talk to the boss, and the main reason you should not fear getting fired.

6. Our secrets on getting to yes when you get no response or a “maybe” from the person that you are asking for.

7. Resources that we mentioned as an extension to this conversation:

We’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts about the show

Let us know what topics you want to hear about in upcoming episodes. Please leave a comment or email us at softalkpodcast[a]gmail[dot]com, and share the word on the podcast if you enjoyed listening!


** To listen on iTunes,  click this link,  Smart Opinionated and Fabulous Podcast

** To see all episodes here on the blog click here Multimedia

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

David Stevens October 19, 2011

Hi Aileen & Farnoosh,
This is a classic “language missmatch”, the yes/no syndrome. Often difficult to use the right word when the occasion deserves it.
An excellent point you raised re “being a habit”. Like many other ‘habits’ we have in Life, this is another one that needs reviewing, especially when it no longer serves us or brings us poor results.
Thank you for bringing this out into the open.
be good to yourselves
David Stevens´s last [type] ..The Imagination series (episode 4)


Farnoosh October 20, 2011

Hello David, thank you so much for listening!!! We have no issues bringing anything into the open so if you have suggestions for future topics, we are all ears! Thank you so much.
Farnoosh´s last [type] ..On Saying No and Getting to Yes – SOF Episode 4


Aileen October 21, 2011

David, I like your idea of “reviewing” the habit. It less daunting than ‘must get rid of it.’ Habits can sneak in and take up long term residency, which is fine when it’s a good one, but not so good when it’s not. :)


David Stevens October 25, 2011

Hi Aileen,
Reviewing allows me to determine if the ‘habit’ can (still) be useful. It may just need a little tweaking to bring it up to date…..the foundation may be solid… renovating an old house, if it has strong bones then ok…..otherwise you demolish
be good to yourself
David Stevens´s last [type] ..Saying Thank You for Today


Aileen November 2, 2011

:) “it’s like renovating an old house” – I like that!


Vishnu October 20, 2011

great post as usual. i can already see – 7 habits of effectively saying ‘no’. like all good habits, taking small steps you suggest is the way to practice for the big ‘no’s.

time to check out the movie office space:)


Farnoosh October 20, 2011

My dear friend, Vishnu, thank you so much …. !!! I love it… 7 habits of effectively saying ‘no’ AND getting to ‘yes’ right :)? Oh my gosh, you haven’t seen Office Space? I thought it was another stupid movie – boy was I wrong! If you have worked in corporate, it’s a gem, in a sad ironic kinda way !!
Farnoosh´s last [type] ..On Saying No and Getting to Yes – SOF Episode 4


Aileen October 21, 2011

” 7 habits of effectively saying ‘no’ ” Love that – inspired by Mr Stephen Covey, yes? I finally saw the movie, it was funny, relate-able and definitely worth watching :)


John Sherry October 21, 2011

I’m with David here on the habit of ‘yes’ when the feeling is ‘no’. Trouble is we get into a hole of expressing it too often and then that guilt trip hits with a one way ticket to nowhere. It’s all about true honesty especially to the self and it amazes me that we would rather suffer inside that speak truthfully to the world for fear of what it may mean. When what we feel can matched by how we communicate and share then the balance we seek will begin to arrive. Love you both!! x
John Sherry´s last [type] ..10 Big Questions That Lead To Sports Gold


Aileen October 21, 2011

Oh the guilt trip – I’ve spent much time traveling along the guilt trip into places I’d rather not have been. It’s like a powerful river stream that can just take control. ” we would rather suffer inside that speak truthfully to the world for fear of what it may mean. ” WOW, It’s hard to read that, but oh so true – that really is what’s happening in that moment that one doesn’t choose to speak up, suffering inside instead of speaking truthfully.


Angela Artemis|Powered by Intuition October 21, 2011

Hello Aileen & Farnoosh,
I’ve struggled with this.
You’ve chosen a very important topic (I actually wrote about this in my newest book).

Pleasing my family has been the #1 problem for me. The implication was that I owed them for all they did for me so that if I said no, I was ungrateful and selfish.

Once the family pattern of saying “yes” is established it’s easy to have this carry over into your other relationships at work with friends and with your spouse. Your whole life can become full of resentment as you realize you’re not doing what you want to do but, what others want to do all the time.

I feel empowered when say no and follow my instincts or intuition. Plus, when I follow my true path wonderful coincidences arise that usher me further down this path toward realizing my full potential. The more I have done this in the last few years the better I have become at saying no when I really want to say no.

I so enjoyed this. You gave us so many great tips. Thank you!
Angela Artemis|Powered by Intuition´s last [type] ..Be Bodacious: Transform Your Life!


Cathy | Treatment Talk October 22, 2011

Hi Aileen,

Saying no has been difficult for me throughout my life as well. I tend to be a people pleaser and am often very concerned about other’s feelings. I’ve learned to be more cautious of it, and be aware of standing up for myself. I love the phrase, “No is a complete sentence.”
Cathy | Treatment Talk´s last [type] ..When Your Child’s Addiction Becomes Your Own


Aileen November 2, 2011

“No is a complete sentence.” :)
I’ve been stuck in that place of being a people pleaser and not wanting to hurt feelings – it’s a hard habit to break. At times I still have moments of being challenged with it, and when it pops us I have to remember that others will benefit if I’m strong and I speak my truth. It can help others become more resourceful and it is so liberating. I feel like being a people pleaser comes from just wanting to be helpful, wanting to be nice, wanting to be a good person and simply not knowing how to incorporate boundaries.


Vickey October 30, 2014

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Vickey´s last [type] ..Vickey


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