How to Say No

How to Say No (With Love and Kindness)

Ever say “yes,” and later think, “Oh no! What have I gotten myself into?”

I understand.

Learning how to say no is an important skill for success, happiness, and peace of mind.

How to Say No

[smart_track_player url=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/lindafieldsaudio/How_to_Say_No.mp3″ ]

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You've probably heard the story about how I built a multimillion-dollar training center in Texas. What you don't know about is the “yes” that almost killed the project and me before it ever got off the ground.

The opportunity to launch the new startup came along with the responsibility of running an existing Small Business Development Center. I said yes without fully understanding the “bandwidth” required to do both at the same time. I ended up with two full-time jobs. It was a loooooong and exhausting year.

Thankfully everything worked out. I was able to make the transition, hand off the small business initiative, and devote my full energy to launching the training center I really wanted to build.

Why is it so hard to say no?

Why do we to make commitments without considering the true cost of saying “yes?”

Could it be that we don't want to let others down or look like we can't handle it?

Does ambition or insecurity blind us?

Our society makes it look like everybody is doing everything and being wildly successful at all of it, but a look behind the curtain often reveals a different story. Overcommitment leads to burnout. Saying yes to the wrong things may seem like a good idea in the moment. It may make others happy short term. But don't fool yourself: saying “Yes” when it should be a “No” doesn't serve others well, and can delay or derail your vision.

[Tweet “Saying ‘No’ to certain things allows us to say ‘Yes’ to the right things.”]

Yes or No? How to Decide

It's important to value your vision and honor others by taking the time to answer a few questions when deciding where to invest your time and resources.

(1) First, is this a good thing or a God thing?

The temptation is to settle for a good thing at the expense of the best thing.

Life is rarely a straight line from where you are to where you want to be. There are detours and land mines along the road that can hijack your priorities and focus. Investing time in prayer, and putting some emotional distance between you and the moment, can bring great clarity in decisions.

God can and does work everything together for our good, even when we make bad choices. But we can avoid mounds of frustration by involving Him in every decision and learning how to say no.

(2) Second, is this request in line with your vision and goals?

Choose to say yes to requests that allow you to invest time and energy strategically, moving things forward that align with your goals when they can also serve others.

If the project is not in line with your goals at this time, offer a gracious no and suggest an alternative to the individual. Perhaps the opportunity is better for someone you know.

How to Say No

  • Avoid the tendency to over-explain. Make eye contact, confidently state your decision and offer a suggestion.
  • Try to say no in person rather than email. Email makes it difficult to communicate your intent. (If you have to use email, be sure you’re not using ALL CAPS.)
  • Resist the temptation to defend your answer; genuinely affirm the person and the request as a valuable and worthy goal. Express a genuine interest to hear an update from them in the future.
  • If this is a request you would entertain at another time, let them know.
  • Skip the guilt with confidence know that a timely and loving ‘no’ serves them and you.

Remember, saying “No”is not a negative when it’s the best answer for you and the other party.

When we operate in love with a simple no and a blessing of affirmation, we avoid offense, build better relationships and reach our goals faster and with less stress.

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If you  found any value in this post, it would mean a lot to me if you would leave a comment letting me know what you like best about this post. Also, please share it in social media.

11 thoughts on “How to Say No (With Love and Kindness)”

  1. Great article. Logistically, I love that it’s in two forms…audio and written…AND mobile -friendly in format. I also liked the Tweetable quote. (That’s the one I would have chosen, too!) I also liked the link back to the previous blog, Busy or Fruitful? They are closely linked (oops pun!) topics and flow well together. I also like that it’s easy to share…tho I would like to be able to share it as a FB message or on a friend’s timeline, and as an email. All that is logistics…but all help make a very important topic more accessible. You hit at the heart of an extremely important skill that is missing in our culture. Not having the skill and freedom to say “no” graciously sets us up for being grumpy and holding grudges. You have a good prescription for what ails us!

    1. Hi Yvette,

      Thank you for this thoughtful response to the How to Say No blog; so glad you find the content useful and worth sharing. Thanks for thinking of other good ways to share; we’ll put that in the suggestion box!

      Love and Prayers

      Your Mentor,

      Linda

  2. Thank you for sharing this message Linda. Having been through three business startups I can relate to the foundational balance of our relationship with God, our personal life and in our work life. Burning the candle at both ends can only last so long and using extreme adrenaline output to maintain maximum output for long periods of time can be beneficial in building a business, but can reek havoc with your personal and spiritual life, not to mention our health and well being. You are absolutely correct in your approach with letting God guide you in the areas which you should strive to excel and say no to the remainder in a loving and kind way. We all will be healthier in many ways if we follow God and say yes to the proper things we should be involved in and as that startup matures, the ability to switch gears and move to a level away from startup mentality of trying to do all things as fast as possible to developing a mature structure required to maintain both the business and your health, personal life, and spiritual life, we find that the end result is one that helps everyone involved to grow, mature, and be happy.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thank you for pointing out the need to shift into different gears in different seasons; this is a critical skill for believing entrepreneurs. It is a skill that requires discernment as well as good practices. I love bringing those things together so new entrepreneurs can learn from those who have gone before, experienced the good and the bad, and leveraged the lessons.

      Thanks for sharing so eloquently on this topic Alan. I appreciate your comments.

      Your Mentor,

      Linda

  3. Amanda McDade

    Thanks for letting me in on your amazing way to say no, I have people that pull on me from time to time, it’s hard. This was a answer to prayer.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Isn’t God practical? When it comes to something as simple (but as challenging) as saying no, He shows us how to navigate wisely.

      I’m excited for you to have this tool in your toolkit!

      Be bold.

      Your Mentor,

      Linda

  4. Thank you!! Is a daily exercise and thank you for sharing your experience. I tend to accept more than I can handle and as you say I have invested time and energy strategically on things that did not aligned with my goals thinking that I was serving others… Martha type of person. I will use the questions you shared before moving forward!! Blessings

    1. Hi Carmen,

      You are not alone. Saying no is hard for most people. A larger perspective helps you navigate well, protect your own vision, and avoid the trap of over-committing.

      You are stepping into a new world of freedom! Enjoy;)

      Your Mentor,

      Linda

  5. I always enjoy your insightful, straightforward writing. God has given you such a gift, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to receive the blessing of your sharing it.

  6. I attended the Impact16 conference this past weekend in Kansas City and the title of this article was a lurking question in my mind all weekend. I was greatly encouraged by the speakers, group involvement, and practical tools that were provided. However, I was wondering, “How in the world will I be able to do this in the midst of the other responsibilities in my life? And when and how should I say no?” This article has helped bring more clarity to these questions. Making sure the Yes or No aligns with my vision and values is imperative. As Roy Disney once stated, “It’s easy to make decisions if you know your values.” Thank you Linda and Team!

    1. Hello Josh,
      It was a pleasure to meet you at IMPACT16. You are on the right track when you identify your values and vision first so that you can choose your Yes or No wisely. Congratulations on investing in your life and success. I look to hear more about your journey and progress as you apply the tools you gained at IMPACT16. Did you get on the list for IMPACT17 early notice? You can do that here:
      IMPACT17 Early Notice

      Your Mentor,
      Linda

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