Don’t be a Door Mat – Learn to say No

Dear Lindsey

Please can you help me?  I have a busy job on reception.  I love to welcome people and get pleasure from helping people as they step into the building.

The thing is that I am feeling very stressed. I always want to please people and sometimes feel hurt when they don’t seem to appreciate me. They never take any notice of my opinions and some people seem to just step over me.

I always say yes to whatever is asked of me. I mean, if I say no – well – the very thought! The staff might think I am rude; get angry with me and stamp their feet. Or they might get upset and I really don’t like all those tears.

I am feeling more and more trampled over and I really don’t know what to do.

I look forward to your support and advice.

Best wishes

Dora Matt – receptionist

Dear Dora

Many thank very much for your communication. It is wonderful that you love to help people and it’s a great trait to have. I am just wondering from what you have written whether you have got into the habit of saying “yes” all the time?

I have worked with a number of clients that have found it difficult to say “No” as, like you, they thought others would perceive them as rude and get angry. When I asked how they knew this would happen – the response was that they didn’t. So what else do you think the staff might think if you said “No”?

Saying “Yes” excessively does have its downside:

  • Being so busy pleasing others stops people having time to achieve their own goals and can hinder their career
  • Over-burdening can affect energy and stress levels and make people feel quite flat
  • Saying “yes” all the time can get frustrating and people can give themselves a critical brushing down
  • Their opinions, as you have experienced, are not considered and they feel others are wiping their feet all over them
  • They are seen as a push-over, a door mat and lose respect from others
  • Their ‘too eager to please’ behaviour can come across as disingenuous and  needy so others may want to avoid them or just step over them

I am sure that you don’t want these to happen so it’s great that you have asked for some support and advice. Here are some steps for you to learn to deal with the situation.

  1. The first step is to respect yourself and build your inner-confidence. We all have our own unique attributes; so start to recognise these and value yourself. May I suggest you have a coaching session so that you can explore and resolve this Dora?
  2. The next step is to understand that it is fine to say “No” and learn some strategies so you feel comfortable being assertive.
  3. And then it’s about changing your behaviour so that you can choose to say yes and no appropriately.

So here are a few practical suggestions of what to say in a respectful and friendly manner:

A person asks you to do something.  

  1. If you can’t think how to say no – then just say: “I need some time to think about it” – this gives you some time – do commit to getting back to them)
  2. You have lots of other priorities “I can’t commit to this right now as I have a number of other priorities”  You can always suggest an alternative or say when you reasonably can do it once you’ve completed your other tasks
  3. You don’t think you are the right person to do the task “Thank you for asking, I am not the right person to do this. May I suggest you ask …..
  4. You are not interested in doing it “Thank you for asking, I’m not interested” or “No, I can’t help you this time, who else can you ask?”
  5. …or simply “No, I can’t”

I do hope this helps Dora and I look forward to hearing from you soon

With warm regards


So don’t be a Door Mat like Dora – it is fine to say “no” and not say “yes” all the time…the key message here is respect yourself as well as others.

Lindsey Reed is an experienced coach who specialises in enabling people to have more confidence in their lives. If you experience times of low self-esteem, self-doubt, lack in confidence and saying YES all the time, email or call 01832 280168 to see how your personal and working life will be improved or book onto the next Confidence Workshop so that you discover the Confidence within yourself.


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