A friend suggested I title a blog, “Five Ways to Say ‘No’, so I just did. Problem is, we don’t need five ways to say that two-letter, single-syllable word to make it stick. Just say it.


You don’t verbalize the period after it either. The period is a given after any complete sentence. It’s a clear statement. If it’s not, you’ve hit a hot spot you need to deal with, pronto.

I found a wooden plaque in a gift store and bought it for my teenage granddaughter. It said, “No is a complete sentence.” She pouted her lip and shriveled that little space between her brows…her three-year old “Ish, I’m not eating that” look. She thought I was chastising her. Far from it. I wanted to empower her to realize that boundary construction becomes a cottage industry in our lives once we’re responsible for ourselves, and she was there.

“You’re the cottage you live, love, work, and exist from, and it needs to be a safe place. It belongs to you. You own it. It’s yours,” I emphasized, lightly scrubbing my knuckles on her head as I smiled and looked up at her. She’s taller than I am. When did that happen? She still makes me smile. Always did, unless I shriveled my brow and said, “No,” which wasn’t often.

Good thing she’s used to my metaphoric explanations. I hoped she was truly listening when I told her she’d share spaces and places with others, join them on the playground, at work, in school, all kinds of places throughout her life, but to hang onto the deed to her cottage. Never mortgage, sell or give it away.

There would be times someone she didn’t want to go outside and play or work with might not be nice or would be pushier and bossier than her older brother. When they made a suggestion, request or demand that battered her boundaries, she did not need to qualify that one sturdy word with “No, because…” It stood alone just fine.

I guaranteed her there would be times she’d need to say, “No,” and mean it.  She wouldn’t need to snarl or yell it, just speak it firmly with conviction and finality.


One word. One syllable. One complete sentence. Doesn’t need five ways to say it. Just one. Period.

2 comments on “FIVE WAYS TO SAY ‘NO’

  1. Great article and extremely valid point. That codependent side of me needed to hear this many years ago, but it’s never too late to start protecting your own cottage. Good for you for teaching your granddaughter!

  2. I know what you mean…My codependent self was an evolution…an adaptation to the relationship dynamics. Before we married I had boundaries. Once hooked and in love and married, I wanted to please him. I forgot how to say ‘no’…but I gotta tell you, I can shout it from the rooftops now! LOL Ha! Feels great, too!

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