The Power of Saying 'No'

Start valuing your time, stop feeling like you are missing out, and learn how and why to say no.

learn more about Paula Rizzo

By Paula Rizzo

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As entrepreneurs we hear "no" on a regular basis. It's almost like it's part of the job description. To try and counteract some of that negativity, we say yes -- a lot.

Being on the receiving end of a no can be brutal, but saying yes to everything isn't going to make up for that. It's only going to make you more stressed out. It also makes other people value your time less. Once you say yes to someone a few times, they start to expect it.

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

When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I ran into this issue several times. I wanted to get involved in everything and show my willingness to learn. But at some point, I've learned, you have to put your foot down.

Once I started to really put value in my minutes, things changed. I got to do more of the things I loved while still maintaining my work relationships. I know it's easier said than done, but there are a few tips that may help.

How to say no.

Be quick. Tell the person you can't do it, and politely decline right away. That way you don't hold up anyone else's plans.

Be honest. Explain that you have other commitments and can't make it.

Suggest an alternative. Name another person who might be able to take your place.

Ask for a raincheck. Sometimes we really do want to do something but just don't have the time right then. Make a plan for the future so you still show good faith.

Related: 4 Reasons Why You Should Say Yes to Saying No

It's a good idea to have criteria for what you say yes to and what you say no to. This helps decision making easier. Here are four questions to ask yourself before you decide:

  1. Do I truly want to do this?

  2. What do I gain out of doing this task or attending this function?

  3. What has this person done for me lately?

  4. What else will I do with my time if I don't do this?

Saying no typically feels awkward and definitely takes practice. Once you overcome your fear of saying no, you'll realize how easy it is! Try not to substitute ways to be agreeable. Go ahead and say no to requests that don't work for you or meet your needs.

Related: Strategies for Saying No: When and How To Turn Down Opportunities

Why we say no.

One of the most difficult things about saying no is getting FOMO (fear of missing out). But let's really think about the benefits of saying no. As long as you don't go overboard, it's a chance for you to be more productive.

Here are five things you get by saying no:

  1. Time to do whatever you've put on the back burner.

  2. Power to be more in control of your life.

  3. Confidence to say no more often. The first time is the hardest.

  4. Safety from overextending yourself.

  5. Opportunities you didn't even know were out there. Since you are more available, you'll find them!

The bottom line -- don't be afraid to say no. You deserve the time for yourself.

Paula Rizzo

Producer and Founder of ListProducer.com

Paula Rizzo is an Emmy Award-winning television producer and founder of the productivity site ListProducer.com. She's excited about her upcoming book, Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed. 

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