Cool Tip #047: Five (5) instances when OFWs should say NO


Have you ever been asked a question and just automatically answered “yes” to it? Or: have you ever been asked a question and you think the only answer you can give is a “yes”, because no matter what happens, you will do your best to make it work? If so, then you must have this can-do attitude that many other Filipinos possess. While being a can-do person certainly has its good points (like being on the boss’s good side), we’d like to caution you that it has its bad points as well. Especially for OFWs, who live far from their loved ones and work in unfamiliar cultures, there are situations where you will be taken advantage of just because you say “yes” to everything. There are also those situations where saying “yes” will push you over your limit, giving you a poor quality of life. It’s important to remember that there’s always another option: saying NO. To be more specific, you should say NO…

  1. When your hands are too full. Don’t eat more than what you can chew. There is a difference between working hard and working yourself to death. Taking on too much work will compromise a lot of things: the quality of your output, your fitness, your mental health, etc. It may do more bad than good in the long run. Only you can tell when you’ve reached your breaking point, so know your limits!
  2. When your priorities demand it. We’ve said it a lot of times in other cool tips, and we will say it again here: know your priorities. If you know saying “yes” will lead to conflicts with something of higher priority, then say “no”. For example, if you promised to do a Skype call during your son’s birthday at this certain time, then make sure to keep that time vacant and not put in a shift there. Respect your priorities as well as the people behind those priorities. Also, in cases when people ask you for more money than you can sustainably provide, do not be afraid to say “no”. Having enough money to allow you to live well abroad is also a priority. Remember that if they love you and care about your well-being, they will surely understand and respect your decisions.
  3. When it’s too good to be true. Oftentimes, when it’s too good to be true, think twice before saying “yes”. Being invited to an investment program that doubles your money in a week? Think twice. Being recruited by agencies with out-of-this-world benefits, fast and guaranteed placement, and no forms needed? Think twice. Always do your research. Learn from what you see in the news, from the mistakes of other OFWs. Don’t waste your hard-earned resources (and your time, energy, and efforts) on decisions that aren’t well thought of.
  4. When it violates or hurts you in any way. When faced with such situations, don’t even hesitate to say NO. Don’t allow others to violate or hurt you, your principles, or your life. Know your rights as an overseas worker (if not, read up on them as soon as possible; it may vary from country to country). Sadly, there are OFWs who still get violated, say, by their employers, regardless of saying NO. If you get yourself in this situation, do your very best seek help immediately. If you know an OFW in this situation, do your very best to help him/her and seek help from the proper authorities.
  5. When you know saying yes is wrong. Same goes here: don’t even hesitate to say NO if you strongly feel it is the right thing to do. There are people who take advantage of OFWs that are desperate and in need—avoid these people at all costs. Never involve yourself in illegal activities, no matter what state of life you are in. Trust us, it’s not worth it. There are also those who will tempt you to do wrong things like engaging in illicit affairs, being unfaithful to your loved ones back home, stealing, and so on. Do not be tempted, and stay strong. Never ever agree to something that can violate or hurt others.

So the bottom line is this: in answering a question or request, remember that there’s always a choice other than “yes”. Most often, that choice is “no”. Be informed of when you should say “no” and don’t be afraid to say “no”. After all, what’s the point of being asked, right? That’s it for our cool tip today. Have any more tips for your fellow OFWs and OFW aspirants? Just comment below or email us at