POV: You’re completely swamped at work, but your colleague asks you for a quick favor at 7pm just as you’re packing up to leave the office (only to go home and re-start after dinner). Why is saying no so hard?

This can be especially hard for women, and our team can completely relate. Many of us are worried about what the other person will think if we say no, or if it’ll impact their trust in us. While sometimes it’s perfectly fine to go the extra mile for someone else out of the goodness of your heart, it is important to value your personal time and priorities. Don’t worry so much about being perceived as selfish – we’re all allowed that from time to time.

Try these the next time you’re getting ready to say no in life or in business.


Let go


If it doesn’t serve you in some way (i.e. bring you joy, create purpose for you, or uplift you), it’s time to let go and respectfully pass. Just like people in your life, how you choose to spend your time can evolve. You may be dealing with a work or personal problem, and simply don’t have the capacity to take something else on. That’s OK!

Along the same lines, try not to fall in to the FOMO trap. Understand and accept that once you say no, you will miss out. That’s OK too – you’ve made a conscious decision, so stick to it.


Practice makes perfect


As with anything in life, practicing only makes things easier. Try saying no to small requests – things you probably could have said yes to, but again, you’re practicing. Work on delivery, meaning how to let the person asking down softly while making sure they understand your firm position. This is not a “no right now, but if they press hard enough, you’ll give in” situation. Your time matters. Make it known.


It’s not personal


You’re saying no to the ask, not the individual. Perhaps you’ve got three major work projects on your plate, but your colleague knows you’re usually a “yes-womxn.” If in your heart, you simply cannot take on anything additional, change the narrative. Meaning, here’s your chance to say no. If you’re honest and open with them, approaching the conversation with kindness, they’re more likely to understand and consider your other to-do’s next time around as well.


“Thanks, but no thanks” goes a long way


Always be kind. Words are important, so if you’re trying to say no, first understand the requestor’s position. He/she came to you with the ask because they felt you could handle it – they trusted you. Leading with a simple “thank you for thinking of me” immediately changes the tone. The other person will likely be grateful for your appreciation and respect you for it.


Saying No can benefit your business


Fellow entrepreneurs, this one is for you. Any business is good business, right? Wrong. If the prospective client or project does not align with your business vision or overall brand, it is perfectly fine (and professional) to decline. Think of it this way – if you say yes in this instance, you’ve just agreed to something that doesn’t speak to you or motivate you. You simply will not be able to give the client (or project) the attention, focus and time it needs because the situation is void of real connection.

Simply put, spend your time where you’re happiest. Your journey is in your hands.