The Power of Saying No in a Polite WayJun 07, 2022
Any parent will tell you, toddlers are very powerful little people.
There comes a point in their young lives when they grasp that they possess an incredible thing known as FREE WILL.
And with the power of one little word, they wield their will with ferocious authority.
What a delicious word in the mouth of a two year old! Want to get a rise out of Mommy and Daddy? Simply say that word with conviction as often as possible and watch them spin!
They have many ways to say no. My least favorite was the sweet child who suddenly became a boneless sack that crumpled to the floor in protest.
There’s a gleam to the eye of a child who’s realized the power of “No.”
But somewhere along the line, many adults lose the ability to use that word freely, even when we know we should.
We say yes to things that we don’t want to do and don’t have time for, not wanting to offend or appear selfish.
When we do say no, we feel the need to justify its use. We struggle to think of ways to say no politely.
You can learn ways to say no that don’t make you feel guilty or icky. All it takes is a simple mindset shift.
Ways To Say No That Reclaim Its Power
As busy, generous, and responsible women, it’s easy for us to suddenly find our plates overfull and our schedules overpacked.
We often say no out of a fear of the consequences or out of a sense of obligation.1
Remember that you are saying no to one thing so you can say yes to something else.
You’re not a “yes woman” or a “no woman,” you’re a decision maker. A prioritizer. A woman who honors the commitments she has made to herself.
You are creating space for the things that you’ve determined are important to you, your family, and your business.
How to Say No Politely
Let’s walk through some examples of how to say an empowered but polite no.
Without excuses, waffling, backstepping, justifying, or guilt.
Situation: A friendly colleague asks your opinion about her new course and asks you to review it.
Problem: You really should be making your own course and are feeling rushed and behind.
“Molly, thank you for inviting me to review your content. Wow, you’ve done so much work on this. I am happy to briefly look at your outline if you send it to me by email, but am not able to review the full material due to a deadline I have this week myself. I am honored that you asked and look forward to getting that outline.”
Situation: You asked someone on your team to create the design for a project.
Problem: What they created wasn’t what you envisioned.
“Thank you for making this new handout. I really appreciate the time and attention you put into the details. This isn’t quite what I was envisioning, so let me clarify what I’d like to see added or modified. I look forward to seeing the adjustments!”
Situation: You’ve been buddy-coaching with a super fun biz-sister for quite some time.
Problem: You don’t feel the coaching sessions are pulling you forward any longer.
“Hey Jody, I love and appreciate our relationship as biz-sisters. I feel like I need to focus more of my time on some other aspects of my business (creating/writing/new projects/getting clients, etc.). At this point in my business, I’m cutting back on time spent on other things. Let’s set a time to connect in a couple months to check in on what progress we’ve both made between now and then.”
A Warning About Saying Yes
Like a chameleon, saying yes can look like one thing but actually be something else in disguise.
Saying yes to other things besides working on your business can be avoidance and procrastination.
But how do you know?
Look at yourself honestly and answer these questions:
● If I feel obligated, what am I avoiding by saying yes to this thing/person/action?
● What would/should I be doing instead?
● If Kristin were here with me right now, what would she coach/guide me to do?
● What am I afraid will happen if I say NO to this?
● And what will happen then?
● And then?
● What scares me about those consequences?
Money blocks are a chameleon disguised as obligation.
Staying in the energy of obligation in anything related to your business is really a money block.
What keeps you from saying no out of obligation?
● Fear of what success might bring?
● People-pleasing to stay feeling “worthy”?
● Fear of disappointing yourself if you really committed your time, energy and essence to your own success?
● Devaluing your time and talent?
● Will someone think you are a selfish rich witch if you say yes to your needs and no to someone else’s wants?
When you’re living under the haze of obligatory energy, there is a money block keeping you there.
The more you recognize when you respond out of obligation, the more you can choose yourself. Practice saying no with love and a generous heart. Get focused on what will move your time, money, and business needle.
Fear is a chameleon disguised as excuses.
Excuses are easy, but they are lame.
I’ve heard them all and I’ve used them all:
“My kids’ schedule got in the way.”
“I’ve just got to clear these 3 things from my to-do list and then I can focus.”
“I’ve already wasted most of this time block, I will just start fresh tomorrow.”
“I will do it so I don’t have to worry about disappointing anyone.”
“But they are expecting me to be there.”
“She will think I am not interested.”
“I really do want to help others succeed, so I should work with this client, because she needs help.”
Giving excuses helps you avoid what you fear, the pain of judgment, of letting someone down, of being uncomfortable. They trick you into thinking you’ve just said no without feeling guilty, but deep down you know that’s not true.
Instead of justifying your no with an excuse, review your reason for wanting to say no. Then in plain, forthright language, say your simple, polite no.
This is what empowered, honest, and confident women do. That’s who you are. Stand in that power!
Different Ways to Say No
You’re like a toddler learning the power of saying, “No.”
And like a toddler learning to walk, it takes practice to overcome the wobbly, unsteady words that are trying to come out of your mouth.
“No” is a complete sentence.
One day, when you’ve practiced in front of the mirror and with people in your circle, this response may easily roll off your tongue.
But most women aren’t comfortable being so blunt, even though it’s a perfectly fine response.
These little phrases will help you get the confidence you need to reclaim the power of no:
● I’m honored, but I can’t.
● You’re kind to have thought of me, but I can’t.
● I’m flattered you considered me, but unfortunately I’ll have to pass this time.
● No thank you, but it sounds lovely.
● I’m not able to make it this week/month/year.
● Ask me in a month.
● Circle back to me in a few weeks.
● I’m really buckling down on my priorities right now, so I can’t.
● I’m not taking on new things.
● I believe I wouldn’t be the right fit, sorry.
● Not this time.
● Unfortunately, I can’t.
● I’d love to — but can’t.
● I’ll need to bow out.
And if even these phrases seem a bit stilted for you, don’t use excuses. Tack on the truth:
● I’m honored, but I can’t. I’m focusing on X, Y, OR Z at the moment.
● I’ll need to bow out. I’ve decided not to take on anything extra at the moment.
● I’m taking time now to focus on X, Y, or Z. Circle back with me in a month.
Saying no is all about respect.
Respect for yourself and the things that are important to you. Respect for others to whom you don’t want to harbor feelings of resentment or frustration from an obligatory yes. Respect for the power of intention and the power of choice.
Toddlers grow up to learn that saying no to everything won’t get them what they want.
And adults who say no learn that sometimes, that’s the perfect – and reasonable – response in order to have the life that they want.
P.S. Enjoying more freedom and abundance in life and business means serving more while working less and making more money! Time freedom and money freedom are the bomb!
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