You Are Made by the People You Say 'No' to

Few things are more difficult than telling someone no.

learn more about David Meltzer

By David Meltzer


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I used to be a person who always said yes.

People took advantage of that. Now that I've realized the strain it puts on me, I take a different approach.

Before I decide to say no, I try to ask, "how?"

Related: How to Say 'No' the Right Way and, Yes, There Is a Right Way

There are many reasons that people tend to say yes, with the most common reason being a general desire to please others. We like to feel connected with others, not disconnected, and many see the word "no" as an obstacle to that connection.

The psychology of yes

The word and action of "yes" derive from an instinctual need for our survival. Although you may no longer have the need to be in a group in order to survive like your ancestors did, the ego still drives you to form social attachments. There are psychological needs that make us more likely to say yes than no, including the needs of love, belonging, self-esteem, popularity and reputation.

By constantly saying yes, you are making it harder to please the next person who asks you for something. Learn to ask "how?" when people request something from you that you are unable to do right away.

Related: Do You Need to 'Say' No More? Find Out in 4 Questions.

How are we going to do it?

By asking this question, we make people accountable for their part in receiving assistance from us, and we can still help meet their ego's needs for love, belonging, reputation, popularity and self-esteem.

When someone is not willing to take part in the "how," that is when you get to say no. I believe that you are made by the people you say no to.

Turning down an individual who rarely hears "no" can elevate your personal brand in their mind, and not in a negative way. You set yourself apart from the people who are scared to turn that person away, which can lead to even more business in the future.

Related: I Started Saying 'No' to These 6 Things. My Life and My Business Got a Lot Better.

The benefits of no

Saying no can be a difficult thing to do, although it has many benefits. It can give you more time to devote to activities that you need or want to do, even your own work priorities.

Turning one person down gives you more time to devote to others who are "how people." This yields less stress, less anger, less resentment and more positive energy.

Related: How to Say 'No' at Work (Infographic)

Acceptance and accountability

Saying no gives you a greater sense of control over your time and your life. You live in accountability. By turning someone down you do not have to conform to others' desires, manipulations or control. Taking care of yourself enables you to better take care of others.

Being tough

It can be hard to stand your ground when someone you respect asks you for something, but you have to be firm when agreement is not in your best interest. The best time to say no is when people are not aligned with your core values.

If they're not grateful, say no.

Not forgiving? No.

Not accountable? No.

Do they live the below the line in blame, shame and justification? Say no.

Most importantly, if they're not living inspired lives or if they're not effectively connecting and communicating with you -- well, you get the idea.

Related: The Power of Saying 'No'

Say yes to saying no.

We are made by the people who we say no to, but also by the people who say no to us. This is why you should be encouraging and enthusiastic when somebody rejects you, for negative energy will only bring you more negative energy.

Remember to shift your perspective from one of saying yes to everyone, to a perspective of asking, "How could we get it done?" If someone is not aligned with your core values and unwilling to explore "how?" that is when you need to stick to no.

David Meltzer

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Co-Founder of Sports 1 Marketing, Speaker, Author and Business Coach

David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing and host of Entrepreneur's podcast, “The Playbook”, is a Top 100 Business Coach, global public speaker and three-time international best-selling author who has been honored by Variety as “Sports Humanitarian of the Year”.

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