How To Say No To Pushy People

You’ve made your mind up, you don’t want to do what they’re asking, but they keep going on at you – how do you say no to pushy people?

How many times have you:

  • gone shopping only to find yourself accosted by someone trying to sell you something you really don’t need or want
  • visited a relative who insists that you really must take that totally ugly family heirloom
  • been at work and a colleague wants you to go to a social event that you know will be as dull as dishwater

Let’s face it, there’s always someone who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  I’m sure your mind is already thinking of a particular someone who tries your patience and threatens your sanity.

They come in all sorts of guises.  They’ll:

  • Wheedle you
  • Keep going on and on and on! Or worse
  • That individual presumes you’re already saying yes

You’re already at breaking point.  You cannot take on another thing, or if you do, you will be so stressed out and unhappy.

In life, there are some people we just can’t say no to, like our boss or family members.  But don’t worry, I cover these issues in When You Need To Say No And You Can’t

But, there are ways you can say no to pushy people and here are some great tips.

say no to pushy people by being firm

You'll be surprised how often people are deaf to your "no" but you don't need to shout

3 Tips To Say No

1.  Be Firm.

Sometimes you have to be really firm, especially if the message of “no” is not getting through.  Then continue being firm, as many times as necessary. For example, I work on the basis that I will say no three times.  If the asker hasn’t got the message after this, and they continue to push, then change the subject. Or better yet, walk away.

When you say no to pushy people, you might feel rude or a bit guilty but don’t.  Honestly, if the other person can’t respect your answer after you’ve been polite, then walking away is a good option.  I’m not suggesting that you just turn around and leave (although that is tempting); just say I’ve got to go and walk away.

buy some times before you say no to pushy people

Don't be afraid to take the time you need to give your answer - don't be rushed into saying yes

2.  Buy Some Time

We often feel under pressure to give an answer right away, but you don’t need to. So rather than say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right away, say that you need some time to consider the matter.

Then take the time you need to make an informed decision. The best part? When you take the time to think about things, you’re not being pressured by a sales pitch or an urgency to decide. Instead, this puts the control back where it belongs – in your hands.

Another advantage of this is that if it’s really something you don’t want to do, you can practice how to say a firm no! In this way, you can say no to pushy people.

3.  No To This But Yes To That

Another way to say no to pushy people is to do things on your terms.  Sometimes, what you are being asked to do might interest you, but you don’t have the time to get fully involved.  In this case, you can say “no” to one thing but then find something you can say “yes” to.

Perhaps find an alternative to what you’re being asked to do, something with less commitment that interests you.

For example, remember that really ugly heirloom I mentioned at the beginning? Well, you could say no and then suggest you take it to a charity shop, so someone else benefits.  The person offering it can then make the decision to

  • keep it themselves
  • find someone else in the family to dump it on – ahem, give it to
  • agree and let it go to a better life
The rules that will help you to say no to pushy people

Saying "NO" is tough.  Often we can feel bad about ourselves or feel worn down by other's requests

When All Else Fails – Stick To The Rules

And when all else fails? Adopt these 5 rules to follow to say no to pushy people and then stick to them:

1.  Don’t Waver

I know this is difficult, especially if you feel as if you are being bombarded. Still, if you’re not firm in your answer, you can’t be expected to be taken seriously.

Cave in once, and the pushy person will never take no as an answer from you again. Instead, they’ll see you as someone who sometimes just needs to be persuaded.

In How To Say No Without Backing Down, I suggest you adopt a confident tone and make your presence count. Then, if need be, stand up and face them.   Seriously this can make a massive difference between having your answer accepted for what it is and being pressured to change your mind.

2.  Be Crystal Clear

Here’s where you need to watch your language because when you say no to pushy people, you have to get your point across clearly.

Saying things the wrong way can lead to confusion or even the thought you intend to revisit the decision when what you mean is a solid “no.” On the other hand, a fatal mistake is to say I’ll think about it.  To the asker's ears, this could mean yes!

Try to ensure that you use the word “no”.  Don’t be tempted to flower it up and go round the houses.  I know it’s often difficult to say it, but honestly, this is the only way to get your point across.

Excuses don't help you when you try to say no to pushy people

Excuses leave you open to persuasion!

3.  Don’t Make Excuses

When you say no to pushy people, don’t be tempted to make excuses.  Because the moment you say you’re sorry, you’re showing that you’re wavering and putting yourself in a position of weakness. 

When you spend time apologising or giving lengthy reasons as to why you can’t do something, the person who asked might feel like you’re offering an opening to further arguments.

Think of that invite to a work social do.  If you tell the person that you don’t want to go because it will be so dull you’ll barely keep your eyes open, they’ll come back and say – how do you know that, or we just have to stay a little while.  Jeez, I’ve been caught out like that.  After much persuasion, I agreed to go to an evening out with the promise we would leave after an hour.  Well, do I need to say more than that’s five hours of my life I'm never getting back!

Keep your words brief. You really don’t have to say anything more than a simple ‘no’ – long explanations are not necessary. But if you’re not comfortable with that, try a polite response of,

  • “Thank you for asking, but no this time” or
  • “Thanks for asking, but I can’t help with that”.

4.  Prioritise

I’ve spoken before about the need to guard your time and commitments like a Rottweiler.  The biggest priority you have is to yourself, and you must look after yourself well.  When you do things for others, you have less time for yourself.

Take a hard look at how you’re spending your time and decide if what you’re being asked to do is how you wish to be spending it. Then convey this – clearly – that you do not have time for something new.

Remember, if you say yes to this, you are saying no to your own needs. So please don’t let that happen.  And don’t sacrifice the time you spend relaxing – you need your rest!

5.  Set Your Boundaries

If you’re still having trouble saying “no”, it’s because you need to do some work on your own personal boundaries.

In my article People Pleasing And The Devastating Impact On Your Confidence, I talk more about boundaries.  Okay, you might think that saying no is a selfish thing to do, but boundaries exist to protect you

When they are crossed, it can leave you feeling:

  • Extremely uncomfortable
  • Stressed
  • Out of control

Setting boundaries takes deliberate effort and dedication.

In some cases, talking to a professional will help guide you on your journey to saying “no.” Don't be afraid to ask for help!

saying no is taking a new look!

Final Thoughts

Pushy people don’t have to rule your life. But, when you learn how to say no to pushy people, you take back control of your life. 

Remember the three key strategies:

  • Stay firm
  • Buy some time
  • Say no to this, but yes to that

And the five rules:

  • Don’t waver
  • Be crystal clear
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Prioritise
  • Set boundaries

Remember, saying ‘no’ gets easier with practise, so don’t beat yourself up if you falter along the way. Instead, keep at it, and in no time at all, even the pushiest of people won’t be able to convince you to do something you have no desire to do.

About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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