The fine art of saying no

Written by Amanda Rootsey | 16 June, 2014

Eco-model Amanda Rootsey shares her insights on the importance of knowing how and when to say no.

If you want your ‘yes’ to mean anything, you have to say ‘no’ more often.

As we quickly approach the second half of the year, it can feel like life has run away on us. The ease, grace and control that we felt at the beginning of January, with resolutions to manage our time more efficiently, exercise more often and take better care of ourselves can be long gone by now.

One of the biggest struggles that pops up for me every now and then is saying that little, one-syllable word, ‘no.’  When I was recovering from cancer I vowed to never let my people-pleasing tendencies rule my life again but it can be so easy to slip back in to ‘yes mode.’

It may seem intimidating but what I’m learning is that saying those two little letters can actually be wildly liberating.

I personally struggle to say no to new business opportunities. I love what I do and so every opportunity to collaborate, write, speak, teach or model is just too much fun to resist!

Where necessary I will myself to say something like: “This sounds like an amazing opportunity but do you mind if I take a few days to think it over and check my schedule?” That gives me the space to assess whether it’s something that I can work in with my current commitments. 

What I usually look for when making a choice about my time is a) Can I actually fit this in? b) Will this benefit my business in some way? c) Do I really want to do this?  d) Will I be able to give it everything I’ve got?

I find the biggest thing for me is never wanting to miss out! But I guess we are all guilty of a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) from time to time. What I’m learning is there are always more opportunities so it’s important to assess whether something is right for you in this moment.

The thing is, you don’t have to be a jerk about it. Simply say it sweetly and sincerely when you need to.

When it comes right down to it, our time is most precious and it is one of those things we cannot alter. As they say, ‘Oprah wasn’t built in a day’ and she has built her empire with as many hours in the day as the rest of us. Prioritise.

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no,” Marie Forleo

And for the people out there that HATE to let others down and really struggle with saying ‘no,’ keep in mind if you do something without your full commitment you are actually doing a disservice to the other person and yourself.

So next time someone needs to have a business meeting over something that could be resolved by phone, or a friend needs to have Friday night drinks with you when you really want to sit on the couch – honour yourself. That way when you do say ‘yes,’ you will be fully present in the moment and will be much more productive and attentive.

At the end of the day we are the only ones who can really make ourselves happy, healthy and peaceful. No one else is going to do it for you.

But how? 

The hardest part about saying no can be agonizing over how to break the news. The simple truth is that most of the time, people will respect your decision. Just know that you don’t have to justify anything – you can very sweetly say, “I’d love to but it doesn’t feel right for me at the moment.” You don’t have to be over apologetic. Own it.

For 50 nice ways to say no, check out this list

For 25 badass ways to say ‘No,’ (not my preferred method but quite entertaining) check out this list.

Do you have trouble saying no?  What do you wish you had more time for?

Amanda Rootsey

Amanda Rootsey is an ambassador for the College of Natural Beauty, an eco-model, health advocate and passionate educator. You can find her musings about living simply, eco-fashion, vegan food and natural beauty at

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