Saying No

The power of saying no comes from being able to make a choice. When we choose to say no, we create a space for prioritising better things to say yes to.

That’s the premise of this article. Kat Cole helps us understand we all have finite resources and important choices to make.

Being able to say no to others (and ourselves) is a powerful muscle. It can help in building a strong career and a happy life. Failing to say no, (at the very least), can cause us to miss something bigger or greater. 

Kat Cole

It is when we take on work or activities that we should have declined. That is when we risk burnout, stress, high opportunity costs and more.

Guidance on How to Start ‘Saying No’

When asked take on an activity, a job, volunteering, investment, donations, etc.. What we need to consider is how we go about saying no. Here are a few phrases Cole suggests to consider:

  • No. “No.” is a complete sentence.
  • Not now
  • I love this, but it’s not in line with my focuses right now
  • I cannot give this the time it deserves
  • Not me, but I might be able connect you with someone who can help. (this is a way to say no to the ask, but saying yes to helping)
  • I could do a piece of this but would need help/someone else to pick up the rest. (Another way to say no by saying yes to a part of it)
  • Not a fit for me (and share reason if you desire)
  • I’m putting my energy into a few other big things right now and need to focus on those primarily

Being a ‘yes’ person is most often seen as the step to success. Taking on the volunteer projects. Helping out with extra work or being able to nimbly able to adjust to business priorities. All of these indicate that the person has a ‘can do’ attitude.

But taking on too much can quickly impact your effectiveness. Taking on the wrong opportunity can lead to going down the wrong path.

So prioritising where you put your energy. Prioritising commitments. Saying no to where you can not meet or exceed expectations. By making these choices up front you are more likely to be more fulfilled and not let anyone down.

Image Credit: Jon Tyson Unsplash

Making the Choice

Cole suggest that you start by reflecting and writing down your values. An ideal list of ‘How’ you show up. It also shows ‘Why’ you choose to do things. Next, write down your personal goals. These should be made up of ‘What’ and ‘When’.

Much like with ‘Purpose‘ (your reason for doing) and ‘Genius‘ (what you are naturally good at doing). By capturing your values and goals you can establish a framework for making trade-off choices.

It is not an exact science. You have to be comfortable with your decisions. By creating a framework to help you decide when to say no. You have created a much better chance of being happy about when you say ‘Yes’.

Key Takeaways

  • Saying no takes confidence that you are making the right choice.
  • Having a framework for making decisions really helps. Values and goals help establish that framework.
DIGEST of an article from Substack
How to Say No: Practical tips to optimise time and impact
By Kat Cole
Published: 7th December 2020

1 Comment

  1. Great post. I think age can certainly help when it comes to saying no because your confidence increases and you become less self conscious.

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