7 Ways To Say No

We’re all chasing productivity when in reality, the answer is right in front of us. Have you ever over-committed? Spread yourself a bit too thin? Maybe even said “yes” when you really wanted to say “no” for fear of looking like a jerk? Don’t be shy, you’re in remarkably good company. Yet, the old saying of “every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else” rings incredibly true when it comes to productivity. With time as a limited (and incredibly valuable) resource, we need to refine the skill of saying no. But in order to do so, we have to find ways of doing so without coming off like a jerk. Here are 7 tips to doing just that!

Blame your workload.

A really effective way to let people down easy is to explain that you simply would let them down if you did say yes. Maybe it is your workload or maybe it is simply your bandwidth, being honest about how much you can commit is not only kind, it is the only acceptable solution. People will appreciate that you don’t want to let them down and find another solution.


Recognize the difference between an opportunity and a distraction.

When we work with our clients to help identify distractions, we encourage them to look at things and ask themselves “will this help me accomplish my goal(s)?” If the answer is “no”, it is defined as a distraction. Now, I don’t mean to imply that your world must be completely distraction free; however, you need to find the rhythm that works for your business and your life.

Refer them someone more qualified.

We often feel guilty for saying “no” because we feel like we’re letting others down by doing so. Just like many of the other tips, this tip can give them both a kind and a productive solution. People ask for help when they need it and so long as you can fill that need, it doesn’t have to be a personal solution. Expanding your network of capable people others can rely on and trust with various situations is a huge asset. This way you can still solve the problem without sacrificing your productivity at the same time.

Explain you don’t do that.

Oftentimes, people ask for help from people they admire or respect. This is undoubtedly an honor, but we sometimes field requests that are simply not in our wheelhouse. The biggest mistake you can make is by actually taking these things on.

Don’t dig yourself deeper.

One of the best things you can do when saying “no” is be completely transparent about exactly why you are saying no. While you don’t owe anyone an explanation, they certainly help temper emotions. Being dishonest about why you are saying no can often leave you with your tongue-tied when someone finds out the real reason you said no harming your relationship more than it would have been had you simply been honest in the first place.

Propose something else.

When we are asked for our help, sometimes it is a result of people having tunnel-vision about the possible solution. This is the old adage of “something is better than nothing.” For instance, say someone asks you to blast something out to your whole mailing list but you feel uncomfortable doing so but you would feel comfortable sending it to a certain segment of your mailing list or posting it on social. These are both great alternatives. You won’t always make everyone happy with this solution but showing that you care by making some sort of an effort can often smooth things over.

When you say it, mean it!

The worst thing someone can do is say have uncertainty. When someone musters the courage to ask for help - they are normally ready to do at least a little convincing to get their way. If you are not firm in your response, you can expect them to do what it takes to get their way. Stay firm and do not waiver. It will establish a standard allowing you to be more productive and faced with only relevant future opportunities.