Live and Lead for Impact with Kirsten E. Ross

Many people I’ve worked with have difficulty saying no appropriately.

But, demands on our time, money and other resources can take all that we have if we allow it.  Failing to use this important word leads to resentments in our relationships, over-scheduling, overwhelm, over extending, frustration and inattention to our own needs or goals.

Saying no is absolutely a required skill if you want to live and lead for impact! 


Here are 3 Keys to Saying No with Ease


  1. Figure out Your Why


If you figure out your why it’s much easier to overcome.  It’s almost certainly a false belief or fear of some kind.  Give it a name and then make it go away!  Here are a few of the main reasons I see again and again.  Do you see yourself in any of them? 

  • You automatically feel guilty. “I feel bad.  They need me.  I should say yes.”
  • You like to feel needed. “What would they do without me?  Where would they be?”
  • You believe that to say no is selfish or shows bad manners. “I need to care about others and not just myself.”  Which begs the question, “when’s the last time you DID care about you?” 
  • You are seeking approval and care about what other people think. “I don’t want them to be mad.” Or, “What if they think I’m lazy?”
  • And from Christians, very often, “God wants me to serve others.” Let me pause quickly to talk about this one….I won’t go into full detail but…..God does not call on us to serve others based on all requests from people.  He asks us to serve others based on His call.  If people are dictating use of your time, there is no opportunity to hear from God or follow His call for your time.  I will also add……Serving God is not always comfortable.  He does not promise that.  But, serving Him will not come from a feeling of “have to” or “should” and will not build feelings of resentment or overwhelm.  A little food for thought. 

Ok…..I just had to spend a few extra minutes on that one.  Now back to our regularly scheduled topic…..

  1. Define Your Priorities Clearly

It is much easier to say no if you are very clear about your own purpose.  What main goals are you seeking to achieve?  The clarity gives you a framework to use to make informed decisions about your time. 

I’m very clear on the 3 main objectives I am working towards as overarching goals for my life.  It makes it so much easier to say yes or no to an invitation.  Whether it’s a social event or business-related request it’s fairly simple for me to evaluate it to determine whether it’s a yes or a no.

These 3 life objectives help me meet my more specific goals.  Mine happen to be intertwined as well.  So, I am often working towards all 3 at once, which is great!  I recommend that you create a similar list.

Here are mine:

Establish and Maintain Relationships with Goal Oriented/Motivated People

Help Others Succeed

Earn Money  And, money along with the design of my work, helps me to achieve some of my more specific goals.

And remember, I shared that these are overarching goals.  I do have more specific goals and tasks aligned with them that help me design each day.  But, the tasks or commitments of time will almost always be aligned with one or a combination of these 3 objectives. 

  1. Have some phrases that mean No memorized and ready

I encourage my clients to create some ready phrases so that they are prepared with a few more comfortable ways to say no.

Regardless of how you choose to say no, here’s the trick: 

  • Be authentic: Trust me, if you WANT to say no, you have a good reason. It’s just a matter of getting it phrased in a way that feels comfortable.
  • Make it brief:  Too much detail and you end up sounding defensive or whiney rather than assertive.

Here are a few “No” phrases.  Modify them to fit your own priorities and style.

1. I just can’t right now

2. I volunteer a certain number of hours per month and I’ve already made my commitments elsewhere.

3. My focus is on my family right now.

4. Sorry, but I won’t be able to help out this time.

5. My focus for the next several months is on a big career push. I won’t be able to help this time.

6. I would love to but my husband and I have made other commitments.

7. It sounds great. Not right now. Can you call me back in 6 months?

8. That is not my area of gifting. I’m really trying to put my energy where I can be my best self.

9. I’m sorry, but I need to decline.

10. No.

11. I’m sorry, it’s not a good fit for me.

12. Sorry. I’m already overextended.

13. I wouldn’t be able to give my best to that right now.

14. No thank you. I’m not interested.

15. I’ve been really overwhelmed lately so am practicing saying no.

16. That just doesn’t work for me.

17. No thank you.

18. Sounds like a great project. Let me put you in touch with someone I think would love to be involved.

19. My budget doesn’t allow for that right now.

20. I just have no time for that in my schedule right now.

Good luck!!  Now go make your unique impact!

Direct download: EP_110_live_and_lead_keys_to_saying_no_with_ease.m4a
Category:leadership -- posted at: 3:00am EDT