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Author Sarah Knight, on “F*ck No!” and Why We Need to Stop Saying Yes

Episode 30 | July 18, 2023

Author Sarah Knight, on "F*ck No!" and Why We Need to Stop Saying Yes

New York Times Bestselling Author, Sarah Knight, joins us to talk about "F*CK NO!
how to stop saying yes when you can’t, you shouldn’t, or you just don’t want to" our Hard No Podcast Book Club pick!


Welcome to “That’s a Hard No”the podcast about learning to say no and set boundaries to live our best lives. 

Follow along with me as we learn from fellow strugglers and experts, so that you too can start saying no without feeling fear, guilt, or FOMO. 



Sarah Knight is a New York Times Bestselling Author who supports her readers in “FUCK NO! how to stop saying yes when you can’t, you shouldn’t, or you just don’t want to” talks best practices for saying no and why maintaining a healthy f*ck budget is the most important.

Key Takeaways

A Guide to the Difficult Two Letter Word: No

This book aligns directly with our message – say No to leave room for Yes’s.

  • The Joy of No
    • A f*ck not given is something gained.
    • When you don’t want to do something, or you cant afford it or don’t have the time, it benefits you to say No.
    • Allow it to feel good to remove obligations and tasks that are not bringing you joy or supporting your life.
  • Leave Room in Your F*ck Budget
    • Spend that time, energy, or money on something you want to do or that serves you.
    • Picture it as your financial budget, funds are not unlimited. Choose your time wisely.
    • Your time is your most precious resource.

I put too much pressure on myself and all too often I didn’t listen to the little voice in my head warning me that saying yes was a bad idea. I said it anyway and hoped it wouldn’t be that bad.

4 Main Personas (Quiz Here to Find Out Which One You Are)

  • People Pleasers 
    • Motivated by guilt and fear of letting someone down.
  • Overachievers
    • Want to be seen as “yes men” and prove their capability.
  • FOMO’ers
    • Afraid to miss out on fun and says yes to avoid being absent from something potentially great.
  • Pushovers
    • Do not like making decisions on their own, go with the flow until they realize they are doing something they may not have wanted or like.

Yeah, and you know, sometimes I sort of feel like a drug dealer because I’m like: just try it, just try it and see how good it feels.

Honesty is the Best Policy

  • Being honest about why you’re saying no gives others the opportunity to understand or continue to include or exclude you accordingly.
    • i.e. This year you can’t afford the trip but ask if they are planning to do one next year and you plan to save so you can make it work next time.
    • Or, these types of event cause anxiety, and being asked to come repeatedly makes it even more difficult to say and then your friend or family may know not to invite you.
  • Take a Pause
    • An answer doesn’t mean to be instantaneous, you can take some time to decide if something serves you or sounds like an enjoyable time.

Baby Shower 2010: Finding Your Mantra

  • Try your best not to create pressure or guilt within yourself. Actively try to understand where the stress is coming from and if the decision best suits you.
  • Sarah shares a story of a time she said yes to something that made very little sense for her to agree to and it did not turn out well. Find a mantra or example that can remind you of these tough scenarios when you are considering something that may not feel right.

Why Yes When No? Method

  • Ask yourself “Why am I saying yes when I really want to say no?”
    • Try to recognize the true obligation
  • Investigate deeper – is this in your head? or something you created?

When the Guilt is Real

  • The vast majority of the time someone guilting us or trying to make us feel bad for saying no is just in our heads, for the times that aren’t we need to stand strong in our carefully made decision

What I say to somebody who really won’t let it go is…I think that your inability to take no for an answer says a lot more about you than it does about me.

Creative Ways to Say No

  • Personal Policy – State that the reason for saying no is because of your “personal policy”
    • Clearly state “I don’t do X as a personal policy” or “It’s a personal policy of mine to not X“.
    • This often ends the conversation and it sounds serious.
  • The No and Switch – Say no but offer an alternative, such as:
    • I can’t make that call but I could do the day after.
    • I won’t be able to swing that, but could he come over my house instead?
  • No for Now – Listen I would love to do this but I don’t have the capacity, would love to next time.
  • Mutual Veto Power – for partners or close loved ones
    • If one party doesn’t want to do something they both choose to not do it.

A f*ck not given is something gained. So when you decide to say no, because you don’t care about something, it doesn’t make you happy or it doesn’t serve you and you don’t give your f*cks in the form of your time, energy and money to that thing, you are gaining back that time, energy and money to spend on something that really does make you happy, that you really want to do and that really serves you. And I think that’s just a very a distillation of the power of boundaries and the power of saying no.

Where to Find Sarah
Read Full Transcript Here
Credits and Thanks
  • Many thanks to our friends and families (our “villagers”) for listening, and for your continued support.
  • That’s a Hard No is a production of Clever Girl Marketing
  • Marketing and Production Coordinator, Maura Del Rosario
  • Production Support, Evergreen Podcasts, Noah Foutz, Producer
  • New Rock Anthem Music: Written by Noah, and performed by his band, The Big Leagues
  • Videographer & Photographer, Jake Donnelly