Managing Mondays: Just Say NO!

We are pulled in many different directions in life. Be it a project at work, a bake sale for school, a volunteer opportunity, or you name it, we all seem to have less time to do more. And all this pressure and activity adds to our stress and our blood pressure!

So how do you find time to take part in everything and still find time for yourself and for your family?

The answer….you don’t! It is time to just say, “NO!”

It Hurts to Say No

It is not so easy to say, “no.” The word “no” carries with it:

  • Guilt associated with not being able to help.
  • A struggle against peer pressure and others impression of you.
  • Feelings of failure not being able to do all the things you may want.

But no worries. You can relax. You can’t do it all. Nobody can. And anyone who you thought was doing it all, well….they weren’t. They were sacrificing things in their life all the way. you just didn’t see what they were sacrificing. They were saying no to other things to allow you to see their successes.

Why say, “no?”

We all have goals in life. And hopefully, you are focused on what you really want. If so, the answer should be an easy one. However, saying “no” is the difficult part. Remember, every time you say “yes,” you are taking time from your schedule and essentially saying “no” to something else in your life. So don’t feel bad saying “no.” Saying no to new things can allow you to have time to concentrate on what is really important to you and…

  • Keeps you from burnout.
  • Lowers your stress level.
  • Allows you more time for other things.

When should I say yes?

Before you can even think about getting good at saying “no,” get clear on what to say “yes” to in life. If your “yes” is more time with your family, it will mean turning down obligations that keep you away from home. If it’s “yes” to better health, you’ll need to say “no” to late nights at work that keep you away from the gym.

The firmer your foundation and connection to your yes, the less difficult it will be to say no.” ~William Ury, Ph.D., author of The Power of a Positive No.

Are there some times you should say, “Yes?” Of course, but before you do, ask yourself this:

  • Does this fit my “Yes” objectives? Is it part of my life plan or my definite major purpose?
  • Is this something I really want to do?
  • How does saying yes help me?
  • How big is the commitment?
  • How involved will I have to be?
  • Will this event be something reoccurring and fit into my schedule at another time?
  • What will happen if I say no?
  • If I say yes, what will I have to give up doing to do this instead?
  • And this is the KEY question… Am I being asked to do this job because I’m right for it or because I usually don’t say “No”?

How to say, “no.”

You have come to the decision to say “no” because is does not fit what you are looking for in life. So how do you do it?

  1. Show sincerity – People appreciate a genuine response.
  2. Be direct and don’t elaborate – No one wants to hear excuses.
  3. Be convincing and exude confidence by being firm – If your answer is no, say, “no” and mean it.

Avoid burdening the other person with unnecessary or elaborate excuses. You run the risk of the other person trying to fix the situation. Plus, the more drawn-out the excuse, the less authentic it sounds. And in the end, it’s really no one else’s business.

Here are some examples of  ways to say “no” and why they work:

  • “Thank you, I already have something going on at that time.” – Tell them you already have plans for that time.
  • “Thank you for the offer, but I am committed to another project.” – Let them know you appreciate the offer, but that you are committed to something else (ie. Church, charity, school, family, etc,)
  • “I’d really love to, but it just does not fit my schedule.” – Shows interest, but let’s the other party know the timing does not work for you.
  • “Not at this time.” – Leaves the door open for them to ask you at another time.
  • “I don’t want to take on what I can’t fully commit to doing well.” – This is a yes to higher standards.
  • Say “no” by saying “yes.” – Lessens the feeling of conflict.

Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty about saying, “no.” Take pride in knowing you are remaining committed to your values and are doing what is important to you and your family. You’ll be stronger for it. Even better, you’ll be a more focused contributor to the people and things that matter to you most.

What are some other ways to say no?
Do you think you should ever say, “no?”

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Jason Christensen is National Accounts Manager for The Stanley Works.
He can be reached at

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