Strategies for Saying No to Pushy People

There’s always someone who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. How you handle pushy people is the difference between keeping your sanity or becoming so hopelessly overbooked that you no longer can tell which end is up. What follows are some tips for managing even the pushiest of individuals.


1. Be firm. Then continue being firm, as many times as necessary. If the person you’re talking to keeps pushing, then change the subject. Or better yet, walk away. 

2. Buy some time. Rather than say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right away, say that you need some space to consider the matter. Then take the time you need to make an informed decision. The best part? By taking the time to think about things on your own, you’re not being pressured by a sales pitch or an urgency to decide. This puts the control back where it belongs – in your hands.

3. When saying ‘no’ to one thing, find something you can say ‘yes’ to. Find an alternative perhaps to what you’re being asked to do, something with less of a commitment that interests you. 

And when all else fails? Remember the rules to saying ‘no’ and then stick to them:

  • Hold the course– If you’re not firm in your answer, you can’t be expected to be taken seriously. A confident tone is all the difference between having your answer accepted for what it is, and in being pressured to change your mind.

  •  Be clear in what you mean. Here’s where you need to watch your language. Saying things the wrong way can lead to confusionor even the thought that you intend to revisit the decision when what you mean is a solid ‘no.’

  •  Don’t offer excuses.When you spend time apologizing 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. Keep your words brief. You really don’t have to say anything more than a simple ‘no’ – long explanations not necessary. 

  •  Prioritize.  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 room in your schedule for something new.

  •  Learn how to set boundaries.It might be that if you’re still having trouble saying ‘no’ it’s because you need to do some work on your own personal boundaries. Resolving this will take planned effort and dedication. In some cases, talking to a counselor might be necessary to guide you on your journey to saying ‘no.’ Do not be afraid to ask for help!

  • Pushy people don’t have to rule your life. Remember, saying ‘no’ gets easier with practice, so don’t beat yourself up if you falter along the way. Keep at it, andin 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.