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The art of saying NO

focus saying no Mar 16, 2020

Nobody likes to be the bad guy of the movie, many times we find ourselves saying YES to something because we feel obligated, or because we are the type of people who like to please, although we really want to say no, since we know that if we commit to more things, we’ll set aside other things that are important to us. 

You’ll say, how do you think I’ll be able say no to my boss, who is asking me to do this by tomorrow, or to my friend who is asking me for a favor, or for whatshisname that is asking, etc. etc. etc.?

To tell you the truth, between your job, your projects for this year and your daily obligations that have to be taken care of, you have very little time to do the things that you want and need to do, imagine if you add more?

We can believe that the things we want to do for ourselves can be set aside in order to deal with this new commitment, but let me tell you, that’s the worst mistake. 

For example, as I’ve seen on many occasions, we say no to personal things that are very important, like go to the doctor for example.  We say I don’t have time, first I need to deal with x, y, z; but if we don’t take care of ourselves, how will we be able to take care of everyone else? 

I ask you, does a car work if it has no more gasoline?  Or if it gets a flat tire?  Or if the check engine light comes on?  If you don’t put gas in it, or repair the tire, or take it to the mechanic, it most likely will stop working, don’t you think?  So, why do you say NO to yourself but cannot say NO to others? 

Another example is about our own growth, we also tell ourselves that we can postpone that class we wanted to take, or that book we wanted to read etc.  Or we say that we don’t have time right now, or we don’t have money, however, we know that we need to be up to date in order to perform our job better and be more efficient.

If you want to reach your objectives, you really need to learn to say NO to everything that is not aligned with your vision.

So, without inviting more stress into your life, how can you say no to those things that are not aligned with what you want to accomplish, with what your vision is?

  1. You know you have a very busy week, your schedule is already full, if you commit to doing something more still, you know that you’ll set something important aside or that you will do it at the expense of something else, among them your health, or perhaps time with your family.
  2. Think of the Cost of Opportunity. The cost of opportunity, by definition, is what you have to give up in order to get something.  The benefit or value you let go can refer to a decision in your personal life, in your company, in the economy, in the environment, etc.  As we mentioned in the previous example, at the expense of what will you say yes to a new commitment? 
  3. Think about whether what they’re asking you to do is a one-time thing or if it implies a commitment for a longer term. In other words, think of the consequences.  Maybe it’s something simple that will not imply deviating from your objectives. 
  4. How does this situation make you feel? Our own survival instinct makes us feel unsettled when someone asks us to do something that we know deep down will create a problem.  Listen to your instinct.

I’m not saying be selfish and that from now on you say no to everything and everyone and only focus on your things.  No, not everything is black and white, you shouldn’t go to extremes.  I’m just saying that when you are asked to do something, think about all the consequences and options that exist before committing. 

Your boss is asking you to attend a meeting, normally one does not say no to the boss, however, in a politically correct way you can tell him that you would be happy to attend but that you are working on project x because it’s urgent, and ask him, which one has priority. 

Maybe a friend asks you for a favor, and it implies a commitment of several hours, which you meant to use for other important things, check if there’s some alternative to help your friend before committing. 

Saying NO to yourself and others is crucial so you can focus and get results. 

It’s not about being arrogant, it’s about rejecting those things that are not strategic, and doing so the right way. 

Be courteous, you can say: 

“Thank you for thinking of me.  I’d love to help/participate in this, but it’s not possible, however, I’m honored that you thought of me”

 “I prefer not to do (thing x), but thanks so much for thinking of me”

“I’d love to be able to help but it’s not possible at this time”

It’s important to give yourself permission to stop wanting to do it ALL.  Stop saying YES to everyone and everything and to each idea you think of or that is presented to you. 

Because the truth is that if you say YES to those things means that you are saying NO to something else, and many times that something else are things that are really important to you. 

If you are really being honest with yourself and with your ability to achieve and are tired of living in a constant state of worry and stress, it’s very important that you learn to say NO as soon as possible to any new project, or requests that come your way if they’re NOT aligned with your objectives, with your dreams.

Think of all the opportunities you’ve missed because of saying YES to everything someone asks for or that comes up.  I leave you that as your homework.

 © 2020, All Rights Reserved, Aldin Consulting Group, LLC.
Daniel Díaz Guerrero
[email protected]


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