Workplace Communication

3 Reasons You Must Learn to Say No

3 Reasons You Must Learn to Say No

This week has been a very hectic week for me, and it’s only Wednesday as I write this post.

I’ve had many competing priorities and others’ priorities have worked their way into my life as well. To make it through, I’ve had to say “no” a lot.

  • 7K0A0021I’ve told myself “no” when I’ve been tempted to move from a distasteful (but necessary) task to a more pleasant one.
  • I told myself “no” when I was tempted to volunteer to drive a dog four hours to another city to get her into a rescue group. (Thankfully, someone else was able to say “yes.”)
  • I’ve told colleagues, editors, friends, and others “no” because I couldn’t help them right now.

And I know it might sound terrible to admit it, but I don’t feel guilty one bit.



Because as a recovering “yes woman,” I realized several years ago that learning to say “no” to things is a critical survival skill you can’t live without if you want to live a successful and happy life. Now before all you kind, generous, and giving people get yourselves all in an uproar, I am NOT advocating saying “no” to everything and everyone. I’m simply saying when saying “no” is the right thing to do, you’ve got to do it.

If you’re like I used to be and you have a hard time saying “no,” here are three reasons you must learn to say “no” starting today.

1. Saying “no” is actually beneficial to others. 

How many times have you said “yes” to something, only to fail to do it because you were overwhelmed and ran out of time? Wouldn’t it have been better to say “no” in the first place so that the person who was counting on you could have found an alternative earlier? Although it might seem at first like saying “no” is hurtful to others, when saying “no” is the best answer for yourself and the other person, you’re doing both of you a favor by letting the person know on the spot.

2. Saying “no” helps define the type of person you are.

A person who says “yes” all the time is telling others several things about themselves: they’re a doormat, they’re weak, they can’t create and maintain boundaries, they put everyone else above themselves, they’re not worthy of anyone’s respect or consideration. Is that the message you want to send? People who can say “no” to things for the right reasons send the message that they can prioritize, their time is important, and they’re worthy of others’ respect and consideration.

3. Saying “no” to some things, frees you up to say “yes” to more important things.

I’m a strong believer that when we say yes to too many things, things that aren’t OUR priorities seem to get done first. Maybe because they’re easier to do and we’re just procrastinating our own stuff, or maybe we’re afraid of others’ reactions if we put their request at the bottom of our “to do” list. There are probably a lot of reasons this happens, but in the end, they person who says yes to everything, loses.


Now that you know why you need to say “no”, you just have to figure out how to say it. If you need help, check out my blog post, Just Say No: Five Simple Ways to Do It.

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