2 Ways to Say “NO” Nicely!


saying no

How to say NO! Why is it that one of the most common words in the English language is the hardest for many of us to say?

It’s at the very core of our human nature to want to please people, especially caregivers.  After all, if you had said NO to taking care of your senior, you wouldn’t be in this predicament, would you?

And then there’s the guilt we feel when we can’t care for our loved ones and we say NO by placing them in a senior facility. Ouch! the guilt. So why can’t we just say NO from the beginning?

Well, here are 2 ideas to say NO to get you started…

Start by saying YES!

Here are some ideas…

“Yes, thank you for the opportunity but I think I will need to check my schedule.

“Yes, thank you for asking but I will need to decline at this time.  It isn’t a good [fit or time].”

“Yes, thank you for sharing your care in asking. I really wish I could help you out with this, but I can’t [give some reason.]

I have a friend who I really enjoy being around, but she is always asking for a favor.  She slides it in when I am completely off guard. I have learned to prepare a reason ahead of time for whatever she is going to ask. If I want to do it, I still tell her I need to check my schedule because I know if I say “YES” immediately I will slide into old habits. I told her once that she asks a lot of favors but she only got mad at me, so I don’t bring it up anymore. I just know she’s going to ask and I’m the one to decide. Besides, she has lots of friends and they don’t seem to mind at all!

Say NO to your calendar and your “to-do” list

I’m pretty sure I am not alone in this. If I write out a “to-do” list it gets overwhelming and then I freeze, and nothing gets done. We teach our members to put very little on their “to-do” list now.  It can only have 7 actionable items. What do I mean by actionable?

Well, here’s an example:  Sheila’s mom got a bill from her doctor for something that should have been covered by Medicare.

She wanted to write on her “to-do” list: Solve Mom’s medical bill before she ends up in collections.  This means nothing, there’s no actionable item.

So, as Sheila’s coaches, Kat and I taught her to write actionable items:

US: OK Sheila, what is the first thing you have to do?

Sheila: Call the doctor’s office?

US: No Sheila, your mom is on Medicare, so you need to know one thing first:

  • Since your mom is on Medicare, she has a deductible of $233 for 2022. Has she already paid this through other doctors or services? If she has not paid her deductible, then she actually does owe the money and should pay the bill, but only up to $233.
  • If she has paid her deductible, then you need to find the bill. Put it in front of you, then you need the doctor’s office number and ask to speak to the billing manager or office manager. You will get the name of the person you are speaking to and ask them why your mom is being charged this when she has already paid her deductible.”

Sheila: What do I do after that?

US: “Nothing, you’ve done enough. Take one step at a time until this is done first. If we look past this one thing, we get overwhelmed as it seems to be never-ending.”

See how freeing this feels?

Most projects or tasks are really 3-6 tasks lurking under one task on our “to-do” list.

Break them down to “actionable items.” So start with the very FIRST thing that must occur and STOP!

Learn to break them down.  Our caregiver members come up with the best baby steps! And we really love working with them and the enthusiasm they bring back into their daily lives!


caregiver coach

It’s OK to Say NO!!

Join the only coaching of its kind!  Exclusively for Family Caregivers!

The Caregiver Haven Freedom Club™




About the Author

Do you feel frustrated with your medical care? Do doctors spend 5 minutes with you, push you out of the office, with you wondering what's going to happen? Does your insurance deny paying? You're not alone. I'm frustrated, too. This is a growing trend in healthcare. Having seen pre-insurance medicine (yes, my dad was an old country doctor), I grew up watching him spend time with his patients, giving them the best care he had to offer. I saw families trust him to help them through hospitalizations and the next crisis. As a patient advocate, my job is to see that you get the right diagnosis, the right treatment plans, and the right supplies and education to make good decisions about your health. More importantly, I will teach you the tricks of the healthcare trade. We need more healthcare consumer protection, especially for chronic illnesses like diabetes. This is what I am passionate about. I make it happen every day with thousands of patients who now know what I know about beating the healthcare system and getting the best patient care...Patient Best.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that has been read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately. The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution. Nor does this material constitute a provider-patient relationship between the reader and the author.