Learn to Say NO.


A friend recently posted on Facebook that his daughter had just learned to say “No.”  While he found this daunting, my immediate response was “If only we could all learn to say no.”

Why is saying NO so hard?

Saying no can feel like failure; it can feel like a letdown. But saying no can also open the door to saying “Yes” to something else.

If you’re a yes-person, now’s the time to take control of your NO.  Here are my top five tips for saying no without guilt.

  1. Identify your priorities Make a list of your top priorities and post them where you will see them every day.  When you’re presented with an opportunity, ask yourself if it supports your priorities.  If it doesn’t, your answer is a no-brainer.
  2. Don’t respond immediatelySo many times we’re too quick to commit.  Give yourself time to feel out the opportunity.  Envision both sides - what will it look like if you say yes?  What will it look like if you say no?
  3. Keep it SimpleIf you need to provide justification for your response, keep it as simple as possible.  Stick to facts and don’t get emotional.
  4. Be Clear Set clear boundaries on your time and commitments and don’t leave the door open for maybe.   Maybe only starts the cycle back up again and it is as frustrating for you as it is for the other person.
  5. Don’t create a problem, create a solution If you need to say no, what alternatives can you provide?  Spend a few minutes brainstorming other solutions before you respond.

Learning to say no is a constant process.  We all fail at it and over commit ourselves at times.  But, if a two-year old can learn it, so can each of us.

In the comments, tell me what you find helpful when you need to say no.