Say ‘Yes’ to Saying ‘No:’ Another #gmKISS Assertiveness Strategy


The word ‘no’ is a great time saver. Well, often you needn’t actually use the word, just words to that effect. Obstacles to deciding to say no might be the fear of rejection or a fear of hurting the other person’s feelings. You can use assertiveness skills with yourself as well. This might be a strategy to be in control of your eating.

If the goal is to preserve feelings, let’s put your own feelings into the mix. When you feel put upon, are you blaming the other person for “pressuring” you or for having “talked you into it?”  Is it their fault that you said “yes” when you wanted to say “no?” Is it possible that you feel hurt not by their request but by your thoughts about what happened?

Let’s deconstruct this scenario and find the embedded problems. Here are a few:

  • You may find yourself avoiding the person who made the request so that you don’t have to “deal” with similar difficulties in the future.
  • You lose the opportunity to build a relationship of trust – if you were not honest, you will suspect that others aren’t either – shaky ground.
  • You end up feeling like a victim – you are, after all, doing something you didn’t want to do.

So what might you gain from honestly expressing a ‘no’ of sorts?

  • A sense of relief for not having to take on something you didn’t want to do
  • A higher level of comfort with the person who accepted the ‘no’
  • A feeling of trust that the relationship is sustainable

Finding words that work for you is an important part of the process of saying yes to saying no. You might be able to decrease the feeling of being out of control of your time, or your food or your life.

What might you say? How can you feel comfortable expressing your desire? Practice:

  • Oh, thanks for asking. I can’t go this weekend (and you may or may not choose to say what the conflict is). Can we schedule another time?
  • I’m not the right one to babysit your kids. Ask me to do something else to help you out.
  • Oh, dear. It looks wonderful but I can’t eat that much. Let’s give this plate to someone else and you can serve me about half that much.
  • Thanks for thinking to bring me a treat but I have a snack with me. The treat is all yours.

In what area of your life are you ready to practice the assertiveness skill of saying no? What small beginning would help you to feel empowered?

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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