The Power Of Saying No

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 7.41.53 AMThere is power in the simple act of saying no, but for many of us it’s the hardest word to say.

The biggest challenge when it comes to saying no we worry that we’ll be thought to be negative or unhelpful. While saying yes is thought to be courageous and gracious.

But the simple act of saying no has power and can often be an act of great courage, and most likely many of us should probably do more often.

The next time you’re tempted to automatically say yes, remember there is great power in saying no and sometimes it’s the best answer for everyone.

Here are some reasons when saying no has power:

Not everything is your responsibility. If you are a people-pleaser you might feel it’s your responsibility to say yes to everyone and everything. But the truth is this: Making other people happy isn’t your job, and not everything is your responsibility. You will never please everyone, and over committing can keep you from doing anything well. Decide what you choose to be responsible for and focus on always keeping your commitments.

What other people think of you is none of your business. If you’re saying yes because you want to be seen as nice or kind —forget it. People will think of you the way they think of you—regardless, of what you say. Most of the time their judgments are more grounded in their own projections than anything you do. The only thing you have to concern yourself with is who you are and whether you are being true to yourself.

You are the expert on your own priorities.  No one else has full knowledge of what’s important to you, and no one should be telling you what your priorities are. If you’re trying to do something meaningful with your life, saying yes all the time is just a long exercise in frustration. You know what’s most important to you, and those priorities can guide you in knowing when to say yes and when to say no.

You must commit to yourself. We usually think of commitments as promises we make to other people , but it’s important for your commitments to include yourself. Because all that we do, must begin with being committed to ourselves.

You have the right to live your life the way you want it.  There’s probably no shortage of people trying to tell you how to live your life, how to run your business and how to make your company work. Remember, though: How you live is your choice. How you spend your time is your choice. Sometimes saying no means living the life we want, while saying yes is allowing others to tell us what to do.

Of course there are many times you can, and should, say yes. But there are also times when saying no is powerful. It is saying that you are being true to yourself and what you want. If you value your life and success, you need to get good at saying no.

LEAD FROM WITHIN: There is power in the simple act of saying no, but for many of us it’s the hardest word to say. When you are saying no; do not lie. do not make excuses, do not over explain. Just decline. It is that simple and that powerful.

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Additional Reading:

What Leadership Is Not…
7 Basic Things Every Great Leader Should Know
Everything You Need to Know about Becoming a Great Leader
19 Annoying Habits You Must Break To Be a Better Leader

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Photo Credit: Getty Images


Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness is being released by Portfolio May 2017.

13 Responses to “The Power Of Saying No”

  1. Narayan

    08. Sep, 2015

    Hello Lolly,

    I hope this article will instil some boldness to employees at work, when they are saddled with too many tasks than they can handle.

    Can you please write an article about challenges faced by introverts at the workplace?

    Thanks and regards,
    Narayan.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Vishal Kataria

    08. Sep, 2015

    Lovely post Lolly. Especially liked the point where saying no makes us commit to ourselves. We also resist saying no because of the fear of missing out.

    I had written a similar post. Would love to know what you think

    The Best Way to Increase Your Productivity

    Reply to this comment
  3. Susan Mary Malone

    08. Sep, 2015

    Great post, Lolly! I think women have a tougher time with this than men, but learning to say No is vital to well being. Took me a good long time 🙂
    This is the one that got me there: “You must commit to yourself.” When I finally got that–truly got it–the rest of my life fell into place.
    Thank you for this!

    Reply to this comment
  4. bikihamza

    08. Sep, 2015

    Thank Lolly on this article. In fact, if we can not say no this is of low self-esteem, and if we can not only say word yes it is poor self. We trust always trying to make a balance between adoption of resolution bold whether yes or no as to preserve the self-esteem for themselves and their presence thank very much Lolly on this wonderful article you a lovely week

    Reply to this comment
  5. Helen Caballero

    09. Sep, 2015

    Than You

    Reply to this comment
  6. sunil jogdeo

    10. Sep, 2015

    Hello Lolly, this is very crisp. I read a book `Dont say yes when you want to say NO` (i do not remember the author now) which talks about how to be assertive and is a wonderful reading. Thank you for the write up 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  7. Panteli Tritchew

    10. Sep, 2015

    “The only thing you have to concern yourself with is who you are and whether you are being true to yourself.” This is a great starting point for so many things we do daily, for planning priorities, for making decisions, for accepting new responsibilities (or not). Being true to ourselves makes a great common denominator. Have a great week Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Duncan M.

    10. Sep, 2015

    Lolly, I find this article inspiring, especially as it turns “no” into a courageous act rather than something negative. Many of us end up living the lives of those around simply because we believe that we need to please everybody. It is indeed hard to refuse a colleague, family or friends, but on the long run, we will feel better and satisfied with our decisions, especially as saying yes when you actually mean no generates frustration.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Jill Gottenstrater

    13. Sep, 2015

    Just decline. So simple, yet I have so often sputtered out unnecessary excuses and even lies to “protect” the other person’s feelings. Not needed…Just decline. Thanks for always providing awesome content Lolly!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Livia

    05. Feb, 2017

    Learning to say no it is crucial nowadays. We tend to accept as many chalanges as possible, we overload ourselves with lots of tasks, hence we forget about our own well-being. Saying no to some tasks along with a relevant reasons (where required) will improve our lives.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Larry Johnson

    10. Feb, 2017

    Hey Like this blog page!! great Lolly!!!

    Reply to this comment

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