Why is saying no so hard? In my personal and professional relationships, I have a difficult time turning people down, even when there are good reasons I should. I'm not completely sure why so many of us feel this way, but I think it has something to do with our culture. We respect busyness. We're in awe of people who seem like they do it all. We want to please.
But over the years, turning opportunities down that aren't a good fit for me has been far more beneficial than I could have possibly imagined. It takes courage to be true to yourself -- to admit when you're not willing, uninterested, or simply want better.
"No, this job isn't right for me."
"No, I don't want to live here -- I want to live somewhere prettier."
"No, I want a bigger salary."
"No, this relationship isn't healthy."
What if you hurt someone's feelings? What if this business opportunity never comes along again? Who are you to think you deserve more? But the truth is, when we stretch ourselves thin, we're not helping anyone. I've discovered that when we're willing to say no, we create an opportunity for a frank, open discussion of what we do want. And the only way to get what you want is to let it be known.
When I've walked away from a business deal, nine out of 10 times the company has come back to me with a better offer. That's right -- 90 percent of the time. At first, I was shocked to discover this. I had more power than I realized! In the movie, American Hustle, there's a scene where Christian Bale's character says, "If you tell them 'no,' they will keep coming back for more." He's right.
When you turn someone you down, explain why. If you're dealing with a personal relationship, consider writing down your thoughts first. Be concise and to the point. Don't make excuses and don't be afraid to slow things down if you think they're moving too fast. You will be surprised to discover there's usually a second offer waiting for you. But some situations just aren't meant to be. If you gut tells you to walk away, do it. Rarely has a situation I felt unsure about gotten better, unfortunately.
In telling the truth, you set the stage for a more meaningful, fruitful relationship. The people you work with will respect your courage and honesty. It will give you strength and confidence.
It's easier to say no when you have other options. Hold out for positive relationships that will help grow your business in the right direction. Looking back, most of the business relationships I said yes to when I should have said no turned out poorly anyway.
Embrace the freedom you have to say no! You will be surprised at all of the positives that result.
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The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.