Being able to say no is tough, especially when you’re a business owner. You want to be liked, you want the sale, you want happy employees, you want return customers… but never saying no will lead to major burnout. It’s important to understand both when to say no and how to say no.
Saying yes is easy as long as you can follow through on whatever you’ve agreed to, but everyone would rather get a no up front, than get a yes that turns into a no later on. It’s tough to say no, but before you say yes, slow down and think about how saying yes will impact you and the projects you are already working on. If saying yes is going to create challenges you aren’t willing to face, then it’s time to say no.
When you say no to something, remember that you are saying no to the request, not the person. It’s not that you never want to help in the future or that you don’t want to work with that person on other projects, it’s just that you can’t help with their particular request right now. Understanding what you are actually saying no to will help you communicate it most clearly. And, once you’ve decided to say no, it’s helpful to be polite and appreciative while still being firm and confident.
Sometimes a no is a hard no – a project you won’t undertake, a business trip you can’t go on, a speech you’re not willing to do – but sometimes a no is a soft no. It’s important to know the difference. Is your no something you’re ready to stand behind or would you be willing to come around to a yes if the circumstances change?
People are pushy, especially when they want your help, and they may adjust their request to get a yes. Prepare yourself for those changes in the original request: Can you say yes if the timeline changes? Can you say yes if another project comes off your plate? Can you say yes if you have help? Having those roadblocks to a yes identified in your mind will help you negotiate if necessary. And, if your no need to be a consistent hard no, it’s important to be OK with that.
If you need help creating priorities, setting boundaries and putting systems into place, your local Growth Coach can help: https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.