Saying No Instead of Yes by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In Coaches
Sep 16th, 2013

"No" sign

Sometimes, the best answer is “no,” not “yes.”  It might not be what people want to hear, but, as Al McGuire said:

“Despite what your friends might think, ‘no’ is a good answer. Everyone thinks ‘no is a bad answer. ‘Maybe’ is the bad answer. ‘Yes’ is the best answer, the one we all want. But ‘no’ at least ends the conversation.”

Now, on to this week’s ideas about saying “no” instead of “yes”…some of the time.

  1. Sometimes, you just need to say, “No,” and not add any additional explanation.
  2. Sometimes, “No, but thanks for asking me,” is the best answer.
  3. Sometimes, “No, there’s no way I can fit anything else into my schedule right now,” is the correct way to respond (and it’s the right one to use when it’s the truth!)
  4. One of my personal favorites is, “No, I simply can’t say yes.” People sort of shake their heads when they hear this one. This gives you time to move on.
  5. There are times that the best answer is, “No, given my other responsibilities right now, I can’t take on anything else. However, I do appreciate your asking me.”
  6. When someone is asking you to do something, and you are going to have to say yes, but it means that something else is not going to get done, you can respond, “OK. I can do that and please help me figure out which of these other tasks is of a lower priority.”
  7. When you are able to say “Yes” to part of the task, then do so. You might respond, “I can’t say yes to all of what you’re asking me, but I can say yes to ______” (specify what will work for you).
  8. Let people know what saying “Yes” will interfere with…and it has to be something that they will understand. For example, “I have to say no because if I agree to chair this committee, which meets on Tuesday nights, I will miss all of my son’s soccer games.” Another example is, “The reason I can’t say yes is because right now, I’m working to meet my publisher’s deadline for getting my book for moms out before Mother’s Day. My writing must take precedence. I’m sure you understand.”
  9. There are times that the answer is “no” right this minute, but it might be yes at another time. Tell people that (when it’s the truth).
  10. Taking care of yourself is not a bad reason to say “no” to particular requests for you time, energy, talent, and money. There’s no need to apologize. You can say, “Right now, I am focusing on my health (finances, learning, or whatever is true), so I will have to say no.”

Don’t equivocate if ‘no’ is the answer you need to give.  Note:  This is good modeling for your clients, too.

Could you sometimes use a sign to remind yourself to say, “No”?  Well, I created some and they are available on my  Keeping Chaos at Bay site (just click the Downloads tab).

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