The one where we learn to say no

When you're saying no to others, you're saying yes to yourself.

Hi friend,

For such a seemingly short word, “no” can be really difficult to say, especially as an entrepreneur. We often see “no” as opportunities we’re missing out on or as being a disappointment to others when we’re rejecting a request. If others have no problem saying no to us (and let’s be honest, if you have any involvement in sales, “no” is a very common word), why can’t we say it to others?

Saying no is something I personally struggled with for the longest time. Even now, I occasionally feel icky saying no (especially if it leads to the disappointment of someone else – being a people pleaser is one of my biggest weaknesses). But over time I’ve learned a few tactics that have helped me become more comfortable with saying no.

Does this request keep me focused?

When you’re first starting out, you may feel a strong desire to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. It’s exciting! Someone wants to give you their money! I totally get it, and when you are just starting to build a customer or client base, this makes sense. But eventually, you’ll have to face the trade-off of time. If you’re offering any kind of service, you only have so much time in the day (or week) to complete tasks. As your plate starts to fill up, it will be your responsibility to decide which opportunities keep you aligned with your long-term goals and which ones are “extra credit.”

Is this request coming from a collective place, or does it only further an individual’s personal goals?

As you grow your team, they will begin making a number of requests. “Can I have X day off?” “Can I have a raise?” “I know you’re busy, but can you take over this work for me?” At the end of the day, you have a business to keep operational. That’s your #1 priority. Just as you need to be comfortable hearing no, so does your team. Saying yes out of concern that you will upset an employee (or even worse, lose them) is saying yes for the wrong reasons. If it’s truly a good opportunity (either for you or for them), it’s fine to say yes. But get comfortable with saying no to others’ requests and ideas.

Can I say yes to this request later?

Sometimes a great opportunity will present itself, but it’s just the wrong time. For example, if you already have a full plate of work and a new potential client is interested in working with you and your team, you want to say yes but you know taking them on now will only stress you and your team out and will actually break down relationships with your other clients. Instead of saying “no”, you could say “yes, but in [time frame]”. We’re often booked to the point where we can’t start working on new projects immediately, so we will say “We’d love to sign you on, but we won’t be able to begin working on your project until X date. Does this work with your schedule?” Sometimes this will be an urgent request for them and they will say no. But plenty of other times you’ll get a yes if it’s not so urgent. Then you have work lined up for the future!

By saying no, you are actually saying yes to the opportunities that are worth your time and attention. I highly recommend The Power of a Positive No if you want to become better at saying no.

Until next week,