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The Power of No and When You Should Say It More

Janice Chaka

As an introvert, saying no can be one of the hardest things to say, but it’s absolutely essential to do so, for your own wellbeing.

Saying yes too much can lead to you becoming overworked, stressed, and spread far too thin leaving no time for yourself.

And when you’re an entrepreneur this becomes even worse you already have so much to do, without adding additional pressure.

When you consider a report, published by iPersonic, which found that introversion, and the associated stress that can come with that, leads to more complex health problems, later on, it’s easy to see just how important this is.

Related Article: Well-Rounded Leadership: The Nature and Nurture of Female Entrepreneurs

Pushing Back With Potential Customers

There are many reasons you may not wish to take on a new job maybe you have too much on your plate already, the money isn’t good enough, or you simply don’t feel like you’re the best qualified to take on the role but saying no to potential customers can be a tricky one. They may not be able to understand why you don’t want to work with them.

The most important thing to remember is that whether it’s a person you know, a stranger, or even someone you don’t like, you are allowed to say no. As long as you explain your reasons in a clear and concise manner, showing respect but firmly setting the boundaries, you won’t have anything to worry about. "Thanks, but no thanks".

Pushing Back With Customers

This might be a little more difficult because it’s someone that you already have a working relationship with, but it’s still very important. Particularly if you are feeling undervalued. In fact, it’s been reported by Informit that clients actually respect you more if you say no because they can see you aren’t a pushover.

If you think that you’re being paid too little, being asked to do more than what your contract states or you’re being disrespected, then it’s fine to say so. Just find a way to get your point across clearly and politely. You can even soften the blow with a counter offer. Practice this conversation in front of the mirror before having it.

Pushing Back With Peers

It’s important not to get sucked into doing someone’s work for them especially if they are then taking all the credit. You already have enough of your own work, without taking on others. You need to find a way to say no nicely, to not cause unnecessary workplace drama. There are a number of ways to do this in the right way.

Ensure that you listen carefully to the request and acknowledge it, before explaining exactly why you must say no framing this through your long term goals. The most important thing to do is to get the answer to your colleague right away. Dragging your heels, then dropping them in it, will cause far more problems than it’s worth.

Pushing Back With Managers

Even if someone is your boss, you can still say no. You’re still permitted to have your limits. That being said, this can be the hardest no in the workplace. You will need to be sure that you’re respectful, not embroiling in a power struggle, and that you acknowledge that you’re both working towards the same end goal.

The best thing to do is to not start with the word no. Instead, explain that you simply don’t have the time, or that someone else might be better suited to the task. You can even remind your boss that you’ve done a lot of extra jobs recently, so you don’t feel in the position to take on any more.

Related Article: 6 Traits of Highly Successful Serial Entrepreneurs

Constructive Ways of Saying, No

So how do you actually go about saying no without affecting your business and personal relationships? Entrepreneur has some ideas for this:

  • Establish boundaries early on, and stick to them.
  • Ask for time to check your schedule.
  • Really think before giving your answer. Don’t allow external factors to determine what you say.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of taking on a task with someone else to see what they suggest.
  • Consider a reciprocal favor, taking some of the stress off elsewhere.
  • Explain why you have to say no. People will understand.
  • Ensure that the person knows it’s nothing personal.
  • Sandwich your no between two positives.
  • Defer to someone else you know will be able to handle the task.
  • Be clear but not defensive about your decision.

Here are a few ideas to start that awkward conversation, as suggested by Claire Diaz-Ortiz:

  • No thanks, I won’t be able to make it.
  • Not this time.
  • Unfortunately, it’s not a good time.
  • Unfortunately not.
  • I have something else. Sorry.
  • Maybe another time.
  • Sounds great, but I can’t commit.
  • I’m booked into something else.
  • I’m not able to make it this week/month/year.
  • I’ve got too much on my plate right now.
  • I’m not taking on anything else right now.
  • If only I could.
  • I’d love to, but I can’t.
  • Not able to fit it in.
  • Perhaps next season when things clear up.
  • I’m at the end of my rope right now so have to take a rain-check.
  • I’m going to have to exert my no muscle on this one.
  • I’m taking some time.
  • Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t.
  • I’m not the girl for you on this one.
  • I’m learning to limit my commitments.
  • I’m not taking on new things.
  • Another time might work.
  • It doesn’t sound like the right fit.
  • It sounds like you’re looking for something I’m not able to give right now.
  • I’m trying to cut back.
  • I’m not able to set aside the time needed.
  • I’m head-down right now on a project, so won’t be able to.
  • I wish there were two of me.

Related Article: Only the Strong Survive: The 3 Signs of a Powerful Entrepreneur

So exercise your right to say no, and start feeling the benefits of that.

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Janice Chaka Member
Janice Chaka has over 10 years of international HR experience and is the founder of HR consulting company JC Global Services. As a part-time digital nomad, she is a great fan of promoting virtual working and paperless offices. Author of Events for Introverts: The how-to-guide to networking