Are You A People Pleaser? Learn To Say No More with Vanessa Patrick PhD

Saying yes to tasks that we want to say no to is a common problem. But how do we decide which requests to turn down? Dr Vanessa Patrick PhD strategically breaks down asks into 4 useful categories. Learn to say yes to requests that align with our identity and how to communicate an empowered refusal.

“A no that stems from your identity is a much more empowered no” ~ Vanessa Patrick PhD, episode 361 Share on X

Dr Vanessa Patrick PhD is a Professor of Marketing and the Associate Dean for Research at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. Her recent book “The Power of Saying No: The New Science of How to Say No That Puts You in Charge of Your Life” is an extremely practical guide in how to turn down the requests that don’t align with your identity.


While Vanessa’s academic research is rigorous and interesting, it is her poetic ability to translate her findings into useful frameworks and practical advice that makes her work resonate so powerfully. Her analogy of persistent askers being like a walnut tree evokes beautiful imagery that helps illustrate her point. And Tim’s favorite quote from the conversation is “we leak power through our nonverbal skills.” Join our discussion to learn how this elegant nugget of wisdom can help us overcome our communication weaknesses.

“Nonverbal skills can be really powerful in maintaining relationships & showing empowerment...even though we can say the words, we leak power through our nonverbal skills.” ~ Vanessa Patrick PhD, Episode 361 Share on X

Producer of Behavioral Grooves, Mary Kaliff, joins regular host Tim Houlihan on this podcast episode to ask Vanessa the questions that will help you communicate empowered refusals. We figure out how to say no to tasks that don’t align with our identity and our personal priorities. But we also delve into some areas that Vanessa doesn’t address in the book, such as the social norms in individualistic and collective societies, and of course, the musical influences that have shaped Vanessa’s life.


And for regular listeners, you’ll be relieved to know that while Kurt Nelson sadly missed the interview with Vanessa, he joins Tim and Mary in the Grooving Session to summarize and develop the key points from the discussion.



(2:56) Welcome and speed round questions.

(5:13) Should we frame a refusal with “I can’t” or “I don’t”?

(6:37) Saying no to a complete stranger compared to friends & family.

(7:28) What is an empowered refusal?

(10:30) Should we sometimes say yes?

(12:44) How to overcome the flattery of being asked.

(15:07) Why women are at much greater risk of saying yes.

(16:59) How to break down asks into 4 categories.

(20:26) Why you don’t want to be walnut tree!

(23:44) Why it’s harder to say no to more powerful people.

(25:07) What is compassionate self control?

(30:41) The difference with empowered refusal in collective vs individualistic societies.

(32:46) The 3 competencies of empowered refusal.

(35:46) Life choices that have influenced Vanessa’s musical choices.

(41:13) Grooving Session with Tim, Mary and Kurt on saying no!


© 2023 Behavioral Grooves


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AIRDATE: June 18, 2023 EPISODE 361

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Are You A People Pleaser? Learn To Say No More with Vanessa Patrick PhD

Featured Guest

Dr Vanessa Patrick PhD