How to say “no” to everything ever.

Like this on Facebook

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”
–Steve Jobs

It’s been said that one of the secrets to Steve Jobs’ success was to “say no to 1,000 things.”

You’ll find this theme percolating throughout the biographies of myriad heroes & mentors. Highly-productive & satisfied people say “no” to non-essential projects, tasks, requests & opportunities — and they say it so well.

We all know that we need to say “no,” about 1,000 times more than we say “yes.” But we don’t. And we pay the price, with over-cluttered calendars, over-saturated psyches, and over-clenched shoulders that never quite sink away from our earlobes.

There are plenty of things that stop us from saying “no.” Not having the right language to do it … shouldn’t be one of them.

Today, I’m offering a sane & humane structure for your very next “no.” And while there’s no lab-tested formula for a “Perfect No”, the script I’m about to share is pretty darn close. Use it often, and with love.

5 steps to scripting a “Perfect No.”

1. Open with gratitude.
You can’t go wrong with gratitude & appreciation. Ever.

“Deep thanks for writing.”

“I’m touched by your note.”

“I always love hearing from you — thank you for swinging back into my world.”

2. Acknowledge their courage.
It takes balls (or ovaries, depending on your perspective) to ask for something you desperately need (or even just kinda-sorta want.) Reflect back that you get it.

“I can see how much this project means to you, and I’m touched by your determination & drive.”

“Asking for something you want (and need) can be tough. I’m moved by your clear, honest request.”

“I know what it takes to reach out to someone you don’t know, and ask for support. I love your initiative-seizing chutzpah!”

3. Tell them “no.”
This point is non-negotiable. Be clear. Avoid wibbly-wobbly words like “maybe…” and “someday” and “if only…”

“My answer is no.”

“This feels like a no.”

“I love you, but no.”

“That’s not a commitment I can make. I’ve got to say no.”

“You are a spectacular human being. Which makes it (really) hard to say no. But … no.”

4. Tell them why.
There are circumstances in which explaining why you’re saying no is cruel, or even unethical. But most of the time, it can help put their mind at ease. It’s the humane thing to do.

“My calendar is pleasantly full — and I’m striving to keep it from getting (un)pleasantly full. Thank you for understanding.”

“I’ve made a strong commitment to take care of my health this year. Which means saying ‘no’ more than I’d like — but as much as I need.”

“I’ve got several time- and energy-intensive projects on the horizon. I’m clearing the deck to make sure I can hit my deadlines. Without resorting to drugs. Or Doritos.”

“I’m trying an experiment in radical un-busy-ness. It involves saying ‘no’ a lot more than usual, to clear space for big & magnificent yes’s. (Want to do it with me?)”

5. Close with generosity.
Offer an alternative form of support (one that doesn’t trigger resentment, for you). Point them to unexpected resources. Send a blessing, or a piece of helpful advice.

“If you’re open to having me support you in a different way, I’d be more than willing to … ”

“I think you’ll really dig this free round-up of resources … ”

“These folks might be able to help you, sooner (and better) than me … ”

“I’m rooting for you — and I’ll be tweeting for you, too.”

And that’s it. No sweat.

Tell me: what’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to say “no” to?

What do you think might happen, if you said “no” 10 times more than usual, this week?

This post was first published at www.alexandrafranzen.com

Alexandra Franzen

When it comes to being a better writer — and a better human being — Alexandra Franzen has a ten-word philosophy: Start with love. Keep it simple. You are not confused. Alexandra’s refreshingly simple communication tips have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Daily Muse, MediaBistro, MindBodyGreen and The Huffington Post — and on radio programs from coast to coast. Learn more at www.alexandrafranzen.com.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

A few years ago, around the time when I was launching this blog, ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

The Secret to a Good Meeting: The Meeting Before the Meeting
The Secret to a Good Meeting: The Meeting Before the Meeting

When it comes to giving persuasive presentations to senior executives, never underestimate what you can

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Career
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Career

As someone who left the corporate world to start my own business a few years

How to Make Your Mark When You Enter a Team
How to Make Your Mark When You Enter a Team

For most of us, working on projects and deliverables by ourselves is becoming increasingly scarce. We

Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to lead.
Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to lead.

“Don’t wait for an invitation to lead. Learn to see the leader in yourself.” —Jo

Confidence is Belonging
Confidence is Belonging

Confidence is a topic that is written about hugely – in fact I’ve done my

Leaderly Quote: Harness your superpowers…
Leaderly Quote: Harness your superpowers…

Ask a woman to name her signature strengths and she’ll often squirm in her chair,

It’s OK to Ask For Help
It’s OK to Ask For Help

It’s easy to imagine that our role models, leaders, and other highly successful people have

Listen, Learn, Lead! Teleclass, Podcast & Radio Roundup
Listen, Learn, Lead! Teleclass, Podcast & Radio Roundup

Want to smarten up, expand your thinking, and procrastinate a bit longer on that tedious

Three Tricks to Step Up Your Self-Promotion Skills
Three Tricks to Step Up Your Self-Promotion Skills

I recently attended a women’s leadership dinner and heard a young woman ask the speaker—a

Leaderly Quote: Learn to just say no.
Leaderly Quote: Learn to just say no.

“Learn to just say no. No explanation, no excuse, no apology.”—Fawn Germer  

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more.
Copyright 2018, Be Leaderly