Learn How To Say No

The more I talk to leaders from around the world, the more I discover there’s one two-letter word that leaders want to learn how to use more. These leaders say they want to learn how to say NO better.

No is a powerful word. Despite its smallness, the word no says a lot.

Man holding up right hand to say stop

Photo by Zan

Learning the power of No helps leaders to manage their time, feel less pressure, and get more done. Who doesn’t want to learn how to say no more effectively? I know I do.

Why We Need To Say No

You can easily feel pressured to say Yes to everything and everyone. You don’t want to let those you lead and interact with down. It’s what all the good leaders do, right?


Great leaders know the power of No. They know saying Yes to everything limits their ability to accomplish what only they can do. Saying yes can drain a leader of the energy they need to get the job done.

Leaders need to say No because:

  • You don’t need to do everything everyone asks
  • If you say yes to everything, you cannot accomplish the tasks on you were uniquely created for
  • Yes can creep into your personal life
  • You will never be able to discern what is important from what is urgent
  • The feeling of overwhelm will invade your life

We need to say No to create margin in our lives. We have to be able to say No so that the things we are passionate about can be addressed.

Learning to say No allows you and I the opportunity to do this.

Learn How To Say No

If you’ve ever parented a child or led in an environment where children are present, you’ve told them no at one point or another. It seems we don’t have a problem telling a child no. When it comes to our friends, family, and coworkers, saying no becomes much harder.

It’s almost as if another adult has the power to control our thoughts and our actions. That’s actually what happens when we don’t say no. We’re giving someone else power over us.

This is why it is crucial to learn how to say no… But how do you say no?

1. Think of the easy no answers:

There are people in your life that you can easily say no to. These may include children and family members. They may not need your yes.

Because of this, you tell them no… “Sorry, I can’t do that right now” or “No, don’t touch the hot stove.”

Why are these No’s easier than others? It’s because we’re comfortable with the person we’re saying no to or because saying yes presents a clear and present danger like a child scolding their hand on a hot surface.

Now, think of why you say Yes most of the time? You may want to make life easier for a friend. The coworker has pestered you insistently over a specific task. Or you feel like you must say yes to make a good impression.

Turn this on yourself. If you felt like you could be honest with those you’re saying yes to, would you still say yes? The answer is probably not.

Remember this as you go to say your next yes. Think about whether or not you’re comfortable enough to say no. If you’re not, figure out a way to become more comfortable where you can say no.

2. Saying yes takes time away from you:

We have to be intentional about where we spend our time. If you say yes to every opportunity or request, you won’t have any time left for yourself or your family. You will be tapped out of resources.

We must be willing to say no for the sake of our loved ones and ourselves.

A constant influx of yes will burn you out. You will feel drained and exhausted. You will eventually crash and burn.

Remember, every yes is a no to something you care about. Say yes when it makes sense, say no when it doesn’t.

3. Think of the pain a yes may cause:

What happens if you never say no to anything? You will get into deep trouble.

I can think of a handful of friends who failed to say no to a pretty woman. They failed to say no to the lady who gave them attention. Their failure to say no caused pain to the wife, children, friends, and family.

Saying yes can cause a lot of pain.

We have to know what the consequences of our yeses will be. Will they be positive or negative? If they’re negative, do you have the resolve to say no?

Remember, your yes can be damaging to your relationships and family. Learning to say no can save you from the heartache of an affair and more.

Question: What do you do to help you say no more often? Share your secrets in the comments below.

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