The Power of “NO”

It is so important to say “No” these days – because until we learn to say “No” we continue to be stressed and overwhelmed with too much to do in not enough time. And isn’t it usually our priorities (eg. our ideas, health, quality time with self or family) that suffer? Interestingly, most children go through a phase where their favorite word is “No”. That’s because No is a power word. It gives a definite sense of self. And this means that saying “No” is also an ideal opportunity to rediscover your sense of who you are! So, whether you learn to say “No” more often, or just learn to say “Yes” on your terms, release yourself from the burden of pleasing others and give yourself more time and freedom to do what matters to you.  Let me get you started with ten tips on how to best say “no”.

Helpful Techniques:


1. A simple “No, but thanks for asking/thinking of me.”


2. A simple “I’m already  doing …………………. / have a dentist appointment”

BUY YOURSELF TIME – when unsure how you feel or need time to prepare a response:

3. “I’m away from my desk right now, can I let you know once I have my calendar in front of me?”

4. “I’m in the middle of something/a tight deadline. Can I get back to you tomorrow/next week?”

DEFERRAL – good for other people’s problems and issues:

5. “I’m crazy busy this week/month. Can it wait until next week/month?”

TRANSFER – good for maintaining relationships and still being helpful:

6. Suggest who else could do it, “I know John loves that kind of thing”

7. “I don’t feel comfortable/have enough experience to help you with that but Sarah might be able to.”

RETURNING THE NO – good for those who take advantage of your good nature:

8. “I can’t do it right now – but I could show you how for yourself.”

REQUESTING PRIORITY – good for dealing with your boss/when you’re at work:

9. Ask for the priority. “Which one do you think I need to focus on first?” OR “If I do this, what would you like me to stop working on?”

PRIORITIZING YOURSELF – stay in control of your life and feel good about you:

10. “I’d love to help but I’m focusing on this report right now” OR “I don’t have time for anything except this proposal at the moment.”

Helpful Tips:

• Tell the truth: ALWAYS find a way to be truthful. There is nothing worse than being caught in a lie. But this doesn’t mean you can’t leave out information (like you could reschedule an appointment so that you’re available) to protect your “No.”

• Timing can be everything: No does not mean “No forever.” Sometimes you need time or circumstances to be right, so don’t allow yourself to be pressured into giving a response if you’re not ready. Sometimes you need time to figure out if it’s really a “No”, a “Not now” or a “Never”!

• Stay firm: People who are used to relying on you saying yes will try to persuade you. Don’t get drawn into discussion. Simply repeat your No and have phrases ready. “I’m unavailable”, “I can’t right now” or “I have other commitments.”


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