You are currently viewing The Power of Saying No
Brent Knight, CSP; President of ISS, Inc.

It has been said that there is no more powerful word than NO. Think about it. How often do people really say no? My opinion is that they do not say it enough. How powerful is no when you are negotiating to buy a new car and get up to walk out the door before a deal is done? I guarantee that the salesperson will find a few more dollars in the deal to keep you from leaving.

I often find that people ask for things or ask you to do things that you really don’t have the time or energy to do. In response, and as a means of not coming off as the bad guy, we usually agree. Later, we regret it when we realize that we got ourselves into another time trap.

Why, then, is saying no so hard? I think that it is because we care too much about what other people think or what they will think or do if we do not give them the answer that they want. Think about your child. What happens when you say no? I bet they stomp and throw a fit. Adults are not that different, but they present their dissatisfaction by guilting you.

It is time to consider a different perspective or approach. Stop caring so much about what other people think and do what is best for you. Don’t interpret this as me telling you to be selfish, but rather as being respectful to yourself and making a decision that is best for you.

There are a wide range of examples that I could use, but I am sure that you can relate. There are things that you must do, which I would title as obligatory, and things that you don’t have to which are voluntary. These “interruptions” are external, and you get to choose how to deal with them.

If your boss asks you to do something or an employee needs your help, that is where you may not want to say no. When someone asks you to volunteer for a committee or to serve on the PTA, you may want to use no since it is something that you might not have any interest in doing or the time to commit.

Whether you use no in your personal or professional life, it can be a very powerful tool. Just know that it is not natural and will feel difficult for a while. It is hard when we feel that we let someone else down, so we must get comfortable with that feeling and do what is best for us. Believe me, it gets easier and eventually feels natural.