Don’t we all wish we could say No more often – especially at work? Why is No one of the scariest words to get out of our mouths?

Take athletes, they need to say No all the time: No to unhealthy food, No to a night out, No to other clubs approaching them… Because they need to keep their focus on their goals!

No is powerful. No is your tool to save time and energy to help you focus on the really important things. I have never been a yes-sayer, however I caught myself constantly taking on too many things at the expense of my private life and energy levels – ultimately pulling me away from my important tasks.

Now I’m still learning to say No more often, but I can share some of my mantras to help you embrace the No.

Woman holding paper speech bubbles with no written on them
There is no shame in saying "no" once in a while

Less is more

We shouldn’t strive to get more and more things done in a day, we should work on having less to do!

“I’m busy,” should not be your go to answer. It is not the new, “Thanks I’m fine.”

Since when do we all need to be stressed and stretched out? Brands, family, friends, work and information overload compete for our attention – leaving us feeling we never have enough time. Try not to cram everything in. Question your routines and processes and declutter!

After all, do you really want to sacrifice quality for quantity? Signing up for everything and pulling off an impossible workload will leave you exhausted. No means you know your limits and you have clear goals in mind.

Saying "no" can help you to keep your focus on the tasks ahead

Say No and still be generous and collaborative

There is no need to feel guilty for saying No. Saying No will not turn you into a cold monster and most certainly not create the impression you don’t work enough.

You might ask yourself now, well great, I get why I should say No more often – but how?

No is a whole sentence, darling!my late grandmother would say. However, here’s five tricks to make you feel more comfortable putting n and o together:

  1. Notice the Nos around you, you will find that people say no all the time and in most cases it’s no big deal!
  2. Accept a No for an answer – making this a habit will make saying No a lot easier.
  3. Meme the broken record. Practice staying persistent and don’t respond to a requestor’s new angles. However, this technique is not for people you work closely with.
  4. Blame something objective. If a certain task is simply outside your job description or generally out of scope, blaming a policy will make it feel less personal.
  5. Is it a 9 out of 10? An easy way to determine if you should accept or decline a request is by judging it by the good old 1-10 scale. Gladly embrace the 9s and 10s and say no to everything below.

A No to one thing is always a Yes to others

Saying No is a very positive thing if you keep telling yourself that your time and energy are precious. You will feel inspired to filter out all your watered-down yeses and free up room to channel your commitments into meaningful projects.

What does your Yes mean if you cannot say No?

In the end you might trade popularity for respect – but that’s not such a bad thing after all.


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by Tsvetan 13.08.2018
Well done Tanja,

Really interesting perspective. May favorite quote: "In the end you might trade popularity for respect".
by Tanja Tsvetan 16.08.2018
Appreciate your feedback, Tsvetan. Would love to hear more about how you might embrace the idea of saying NO more often...
by Julia Richter 16.08.2018
Wise words & great tricks to say NO more often - thanks Tanja!
by Tanja Julia Richter 16.08.2018
Thanks for your kind words. Looking forward to hearing how you embrace the NO in the future!
by Chris Loughlin 24.08.2018
Thanks Tanja! Reminds me of one of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes where he said "it comes from saying no to 1000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much"
by Tanja Chris Loughlin 24.08.2018
Exactly! Make up your mind and define those things you really want to achieve - it will be much easier to say no to distractions.
by Becca Jules 29.08.2018
Great article, Tanja. It was the perfect time for me to read this little pick me up. Going back to those original ideas of less is more - quality over quantity.
by Tanja Becca Jules 12.09.2018
Glad to hear my article helped you refocus - would you mind to share some successes? Thanks!
by kevin DOHERTY 06.09.2018
I am interested.
by Tanja kevin DOHERTY 12.09.2018
Aloha Kevin, what else would you like to know?