BreadBox Leadership



How to Say No

Saying no  is becoming a rarity in our culture. 

This past week, I was shopping in Best Buy when I overheard a manager and employee having a conversations,

"Can you stay late and work extra hours tonight?" said the manager. "Uh..." the employee hesitated, "...sure. I was going to spend time with my family, but I guess I'll stay."

See that? Right there: the almost innate desire to say yes even when we need to say no.

Everyone everywhere feels the need to please others, so yes becomes the response most people automatically turn to, much like the Best Buy employee.

No is the opposite of rude or negative; it can be life-giving, boundary-setting, time-protecting, and healthy.

Before you judge him for his decision, think of the last time you said yes simply because it was more convenient to do so. The truth is, people associate saying no with a negative context. It’s almost as if saying no is like kicking a puppy off a bridge, or rudely dismissing someones request.

No is the opposite of rude or negative; it can be life-giving, boundary-setting, time-protecting, and healthy. In order to get to a positive no, you must first uncover the vision behind your yes.

There are 3 major aspects to no…

1.) Uncover your yes

The primary reason we have trouble saying no is likely because we don't have a higher yes we use to filter our decisions. You must know what's most important so you can make decisions that lead to saying yes to what's important. If your family is your yes, then staying late at work to please your boss deserves a no. Set your yes, and stick to it!

2.) Empower your no

The next step is to share why you're saying no. Point to your yes, "I have to say no because my family is most important, and I promised them I'd be home tonight for dinner." It's not always easy, but you must learn to vision cast your no and connect it to your yes to honor the person you're saying no to. 

3.)  Respect your way to yes

Lastly, offering a solution that respects someone’s request is crucial. “No, I cannot stay late at work tonight. But I’d be willing to come in early tomorrow morning instead.” With this last step, you’re offering a compromise. You’re allowing your no to be heard, but then giving the person a different option that you’d be able to say yes to.

The model for a positive, well intentioned no is really simple: Yes! No. Yes? Based on our example above, Yes! I love my family, No. Work won’t come before them, Yes? I’d like to work early tomorrow morning.

By making no a more common, more positive aspect of our lives, we can certainly change a lot of areas in our life for the better.

What’s something you struggle saying No  to?

*Concepts taken from the book The Power of a Positive No by William Ury*