What Everybody Ought to Know About “No”

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How to say noAre you quick to say yes but find yourself contemplating over the word no? If you’re looking for more time in your day consider changing your mindset around the word no. Using this one-syllable word can change your life and your calendar in a positive way!

Why saying no is important

Why is no so difficult to say?  Part of it is a fear of missing out (FOMO). Declining a request or an invite might mean missing out on something amazing!

If I don’t attend that speed networking event I might miss out on meeting my biggest client yet!

If I say no to dinner out with friends the night before a big client deadline I might miss out on the best night ever and I’ll feel like an outsider!

Saying no might also result in someone being mad or annoyed!

If I say no to helping my friend move on a weekend I had planned to spend with my significant other she will no longer think of me as a good friend.

If I say no to chipping in on a gift for a coworker I’ve talked to maybe once/friend of a friend/cousin I see maybe once every five years I’ll no longer be seen as a team player. 

Many of us are afraid to say no, even though we want to or need to. If you’re going to bed at night feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things you have to do at the request of other people, it’s time to learn how to say no – nicely, of course.

When I first started my business I had a hard time declining things. If someone asked me to attend a networking event I would go because I wanted to meet potential clients. If someone asked me to meet them for a coffee to “pick my brain” I’d say yes because I thought it would be great “practice”. If someone popped by on a weekday for a visit I’d invite them in because everyone needs a break, right?

No wonder I had no time to grow my business! I blamed it on being a mom but, in reality, I was saying yes to too many things.

Networking events are fantastic for meeting potential clients but do your research to ensure you’re attending one with your target market. If your business serves larger businesses with at least 10 employees you might not want to attend an event filled with solo entrepreneurs or aspiring business owners. It’s ok to have an agenda!

Often, when a potential client or even a friend wants to “pick your brain” it’s code for giving free advice. If you’re a service business, time is money – literally. Unless you want to meet for social reasons, agreeing to this request will only take valuable time away from building your business and finding clients who respect and pay for your valuable time.

Friends or parents (or whoever might do a pop-in during your work-centred hours) who don’t work for themselves or don’t work from home might not understand that, just because you are at home doesn’t mean you’re not working. Unless you’re itching for a break, saying yes to well-meaning people who want to visit at times when most people are at work will only contribute to your “I have no time!” breakdown later on.

Learning how to say no can be one of the best time-management strategies for you and your business. When you say no to one thing you’re opening up your calendar so you can say yes to something else. How would you love to have more hours in the day to do things that are helping you and your business?

Before you go off and say no to every request that comes your way, read on. There is a right way and a wrong way to decline. Here are five tactful ways to say no that will earn you respect and give you back your time:

Set your boundaries ahead of time – Remember my tips for creating a to-do list that works for you, not against you? Look at your to-do list and factor in “extras”. Determine how many networking events/birthday parties/coffee dates/etc. you’re willing to factor into your schedule this month and stick to the number. If you decide to include one coffee date into your calendar a week, stick to that and politely decline additional invites with a suggestion to meet the following week instead. Setting boundaries allows you to feel more confident to decline when requests to step over them arise.

Resist giving on-the-spot answers – Don’t feel as though you always have to have an answer the minute you’re asked a question. Committing to something you can’t follow through on is an easy way to tarnish relationships. Resist giving the automatic “yes” and instead say, “thank you, but let me check my calendar first.” Be sure to follow up with a “yes” or “no” shortly after.

Be transparent – I feel as though it’s important to explain why the answer is “no”. Otherwise, in some circumstances, it’s easy for people to draw their own conclusions which might not be right. If you’re asked to contribute to a gift, tell the person asking that you’ve already surpassed your gift-giving budget for the month. If you’re invited to happy hour and have a large client project due the next day, be upfront about it.

Be positive – Having your request rejected can feel like a personal blow. Keep this in mind and let the person making the request know that it’s the task, not them, that you’re rejecting.

Be clear – I tend to feel uncomfortable when I need to say no to something. I used to say no in the most roundabout way which only confused people! There have been times when I went to say no and found myself in negotiations which wasn’t always in my favour! Now, I clearly yet politely say “no” and stick to my answer.

Being someone who always says yes might make other people happy but it won’t earn you points when it comes to self-respect, time, and energy! Learn how to say no politely and professionally and you’ll find your calendar opens up to focus on accomplishing your goals and dreams.

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