INSIDE: Find twelve different ways to say no effectively, depending on what your end goal is in the situation.

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Deciding you want to slow down is the first step toward an unbusy life. It is said, that “the battle for our hearts is fought on the pages of our calendar.” (Bob Goff)

The next step is practicing standing up to a world that celebrates constantly being on the go. A world that might be comprised of people you love, respect, or potentially see daily.

Learning to say no takes practice; it looks different for each of us and changes from situation to situation.

12 Different Ways to Say No

Below is a collection of suggestions that work well for members of the private Becoming UnBusy Facebook Group.

Are you part of the private Becoming UnBusy Facebook Group? Join like-minded friends and families trying to navigate through life toward simplicity.

Go into this week with the attitude that your peace, your health of mind, and your heart mean more than getting everything else done. That your smile matters. That feeling rested matters. That holding the hands of your loved ones matter. So pause lots, function at a pace that doesn't pull you apart. Honour the things that make you feel good inside, the things that make you feel alive. Give time to those things this week. Make time the gift it is, by giving it to what really matters to you.

1. If you feel caught off guard and you’re worried you won’t say what you want to say in the moment.

“Let me get back to you” or “Let me think about it.”

I try not to give an immediate answer because my default is often yes. Or when I know I want to decline and I’m caught off guard, I tend to over-explain. With this buffer, when I do get back to them, I can be straightforward and honest. — Ellie

With this approach, you can actually think about if it’s something that adds to your values, and if not, and then decide. — Angie

2. If you want to maintain the right to change your mind, here’s how to say no in a nice way.

“Thank you so much for thinking of me. It’s a no for now but I will definitely let you know if anything changes.”

At times a firm “no” is what’s needed. However, sometimes I like this more open and tactical response. — Madelaine

3. If you’re thinking, “I don’t want to,” and you’d like to give them a solid no here are some suggestions.

“Thank you for thinking of me but I’m not able to participate.”

I’ve also learned that I don’t need to give any further explanations. It’s uncomfortable at first but has gotten easier as I’ve practiced saying it. — Amy


“If I did this, I’d have to figure out what else to give up. My time is filled with other priorities at the moment.”

No explanation is necessary but you can say this with a tone of regret and kindly. Side note: this includes rest and time with family as we can give these things up too quickly. — Belinda


“Sorry, my plate is already full.”

I never add “now” to any of these statements, as it infers that maybe another request would be accepted later. — Gail

A quick reminder, you can be a good person and still say no. This Tolkien line always pops into my head when I am in a situation when I need to give a solid no.

A dad and daughter sitting together on a pier with the quote, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." over top the photograph.

How To Give A Solid No (Continued)

“I’m not available for that event/coffee/whatever.”

I’m not saying that I have something else to do or go to, I’m unavailable – mentally, emotionally, physically, it doesn’t matter. If they argue, “I have another commitment” (to me/my family/whatever). — Tamara


“I need to say no.”


“Thank you so much for asking. While it’s not something I’d like to do please know how honored I am to be asked.”

4. If you want to ensure their feelings aren’t hurt and you’re open to their request in the future, here are some nice ways to say no.

“I am not able to do that this time, please ask again!”


“No, thanks, but I appreciate you thinking of me.”


“Thank you for such a wonderful offer. I have to pass this time.”

5. If you’d like to declare you’re moving toward a simpler lifestyle, here are some ways to say no.

“I’m striving to stay unbusy right now.”

You can find six more ways to declare you’re shifting toward an unbusy life here:

A Practical Guide To Saying No

Take a moment to scan through the suggested ways for saying no. Is there one that stands out to you? Say it out loud a couple of times to try and put it to memory.

Be sure to take a moment to pause and pin, save, or bookmark this post for future reference!

P.S. A big THANK YOU to all the group members who shared their insights with us on how to say no effectively!

Are you part of the private Becoming UnBusy Facebook Group? Join like-minded friends and families trying to navigate through life toward simplicity.

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