Learn how to change your answer after you’ve already committed to plans

We have all been there. It can be so difficult to say “no” for so many reasons. Saying “no” is definitely a skill we should all be working on, but let’s focus today on what to do when you initially say “yes” to a commitment, and then regret it.

Maybe you agreed to go on a date with a really sweet guy, but you know he’s not really your type. Maybe you were asked to volunteer for something that you don’t have time for, but you feel pressured to help because you know the help is needed.

You end up saying “yes,” and then feel overwhelmed and anxious because it’s not really what you want. I would like you to feel empowered to change your answer. I would also encourage you to view it as changing your answer instead of changing your mind.

Your mind knew what you wanted in the first place. You are now going back and honoring your true needs and desires, and that needs to be celebrated (even if it feels uncomfortable)!

I would also strongly encourage you to find it within yourself to be honest instead of trying to cover your tracks by telling a white lie. It’s better for you and the other person when you explain what really happened, because it builds trust in you that you will be honest with them. It also keeps you from having to keep track of what you’ve told people, and put aside any fears that you might get “caught.”

As always, I will be posting an awkward comment (AC) and a replacement comment (R).

Scenario 1: You agreed to go on a date with someone you’re not romantically interested in.

AC: I’m just not in a place right now to date anyone.
R: I think you are a really sweet person, so when you asked me if I would go on a date with you I said yes, because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings or make you upset. The truth is, I don’t feel that way about you and I think it’s best for both of us for me to be honest upfront. I’m sorry for sending you mixed signals. I hope you understand.

Scenario 2: You agreed to help at the school bake sale, but the idea of spending the whole afternoon focused on something besides the priorities on your to do list is really stressing you out.

AC: Someone in my family is really sick so I’m not going to be able to volunteer at the bake sale on Saturday.
R: I really hate to have to change my answer, but I’m not going to be able to help at the bake sale this weekend. I said yes because I know you need help and I really wanted to be able to contribute, but I am so burned out right now at work and I am worried that if I don’t take the time to rest that I will end up either getting sick or becoming very miserable. I don’t want to put you in a difficult position, but I need to take the day to recover. I hope you understand.

Scenario 3: Your work Bestie just asked you to go to lunch with her and you said yes because it sounds way more fun than the pile of paperwork on your desk. You’re getting more and more stressed about it though, because you know that the two of you get chatty and you’ll be behind for the rest of the day if you have lunch with her instead of spending the time catching up like you were originally planning on doing.

AC: I just had an emergency so I’m going to have to cancel lunch today.
R: I really don’t want to disappoint you, but I’m going to have to decline the offer to go to lunch today. I know I said yes earlier. I said yes because I enjoy spending time with you so much, and I really wanted a chance to hang out with you. The truth is, I’m completely swamped right now with work. I know that if I go to lunch with you that I’m going to wind up being totally stressed out by the end of the day trying to scramble to get it all done. I hate to change my answer because I really do want to spend the time with you. Can we reschedule for another day?

Most people have a strong sense of when you are telling them something other than the real story. It causes distrust and often hurt feelings (or tension), because no one appreciates being treated that way. You might feel continued anxiety about “getting caught” if you start dating someone else after saying you didn’t have time, or run into someone at the store or a restaurant after telling them you had an emergency.

Being honest will give you relief, build trust with others, and increase compassion between you and others for your needs. It’s a great start to build boundaries and will help set you up for success with saying “no” on the front end next time.

With love,


Julie Crenshaw is a Conversation Coach and author. Her book, “Navigating & Avoiding Awkward Conversations: How to speak to anyone about anything,” has helped readers all over the world improve their communication skills. Follow her on Instagram to learn more about the art of conversation.




I help those who desire to speak with confidence & connection know how/what to say.

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Julie Crenshaw

Julie Crenshaw

I help those who desire to speak with confidence & connection know how/what to say.

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