How To Say No And Mean It


The Hard No (A how-to guide)

The hard No

“Let me think about it” “I’ll get back to you” “I need to check my schedule” are all examples of excuses we sometimes use when getting caught in the middle of a “quick question”. I’ve lost count thinking about how many times I’ve been able to skate away from conversations or small favors that turn into month long commitments by using a few of the key phrases mentioned.

But with experience, I’ve Learned one important lesson. No is a complete sentence that we need to use more often. For so long we’ve been taught to politely make up 1001 excuses as to why we can’t fulfill requests for our time and attention and I’m not convinced that this tactic of verbal dodgeball is effective or healthy.

So what do you do when you’ve been cornered in the break room and asked to serve as the committee chair for the companies annual picnic? Let me help you with this, say no. Don’t go on a long rant about all the stuff you have to do and how you have to make sure your cat gets to her weekly play date.

Just simply say No, thank you.

Saying no is empowering and it’s something you should practice saying as a complete sentence. Trust me, it gets easier to do once you get started. As always make sure to assess the situation first and make sure it’s appropriate. telling your boss no, thank you when they ask to stay late to help finish team project, might not get you on the fast track to the corner office.

When in doubt ask yourself a few questions when it comes to extracurricular yes’s

Is this something that you want to do?

Most of the time it’s when you really want to do something you feel a sense of pride, joy, and excitement, even if its a nervous excitement. If you are feeling a sense of dread or overwhelm in the worse way, that’s your body’s way of telling to say no. Listen to your body it will lead you in the right direction.

Is this something I can commit to and do well?

Often times we commit to things with the full intention of being a rock star at the task. What we don’t consider is that we only have so much bandwidth and time in a day. If you can’t commit to doing the job 100% then it might be a good idea to step back and say no. Saying yes and leaving the job half done is worse than an understanding no.

Is this something that is going to help me get to my next personal or professional goal?

You always hear that the most successful people write down their goals. Write down you top three personal and professional goals. Does the request fit into any of those categories? can working on the project help you to achieve any of your goals? Take into consideration that your time is extremely valuable. Make sure to exchange your time for something of equal value.

If you’ve answered no to any or all of these questions, I suggest you learn to get cozy with the two letter word NO.

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Tanida Mullen

Tanida Mullen is the visionary of the Savvy Young Professional, a live event and digital learning platform built for young professionals around the world.

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