No is the most powerful word in my vocabulary – I’ve learned to love to say no. “No thank you” is a complete sentence, a way to get men to (hopefully) leave you alone, it’s a boundary, and it’s empowering to use and say.
Unfortunately, no can also be REALLY hard to say. It’s alleged that as a toddler I was pretty damn good at saying no but as I got older the people pleasing requirements of being a woman kicked in. Boundaries and saying no got harder because being easy going was expected and requested of me. I allowed people pleasing tendencies to kick in which meant I was queen of yes and limited on my no’s. People pleasing sucked the life out of me so eventually I had to build boundaries, confidence and in turn learn to use no again. As an adult I’ve brought no back into my life with gusto.
Now that I am the queen of NO let’s chat about the power behind the word in hopes that it inspires you to say no more.
**Before we start a disclaimer. I am not responsible for your life decisions. You are the subject matter expert in your own life. This is general and generic advice based on lived experience. I am a Certified Life Coach via Universal Coaching Institute and a Professional in Human Resources via HRCI. I am not a therapist or medical professional. Please work with a medical professional when it comes to your physical or mental health.
Misconceptions About No
Before I share my use case for no, let’s talk a bit about the reputation it has been given. A misconception I had with no is that no = negative. Apparently I am not alone in this. While researching for this post I found a Psychology Today article that also talks about this. (I’ll link it here if you want to check it out).
In my personal viewpoint no is not a negative it is neutral. If I say no to something because it does not align with me then I am remaining true to myself. If I say yes to something because I feel bad about saying no then I am compromising on myself. With this perspective yes is more likely to have a negative impact than a no.
What if I Say No and People Get Mad?
Can saying no get us in trouble? Yes. Some people do not appreciate our boundaries. In some scenarios people will get really mad or offended if we say no. But can yes get us in trouble and cause us to over extend ourselves? Also yes.
My suggestion to this is to say no in a smart way. Do not start just saying NO NO NO to everything. Start small, set a boundary, make it clear and explain it only when necessary.
No in Action
So how do we use it? No is my boundary setting bff. I would recommend starting slow but your relationship with no is unique to you so use it how you see fit. Some of my favorite examples of no in the wild are:
Your boss calls you on your day off and asks you to come in. You are tired. You requested this day off. You do not want to go to work or make the extra money so you say “No, I can’t come in today. Thanks for offering me the hours but I’m going to have to pass”. You do not have to explain further. It is not your job to find someone else to cover that shift. After you hang up the phone celebrate – you just used no!
A coworker has quit and your boss asks you to handle a portion of that role while they look for a replacement. You agree because 1) they didn’t really ask they just told you to and 2) you are a team player. Months go by. They put searching for a replacement on the backburner because you are so “good” at handling both roles. You are personally burnt out. Working both roles has left you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, always behind and that energy has seeped into your personal life. In your next 1:1 with your boss they ask you to take on additional work to help out. This might be a great time to try saying no. “I’m sorry but I cannot take on any additional work until we replace the coworker that left” or “No, I cannot fit that additional work into my schedule with x and x project, work, etc”. You can say no without saying no if you’re afraid of coming off too strong or you can be bold and pull out a no with an example.
Advanced level from my college years: A man approached my friend and I at a bar (back when bars were still a place to go and be) and he tried to talk to us. We were not interested and made that very clear but he stuck around. My friend looked at him and literally just said “no thank you”. Deadpan. No smile, no sorry, no apologies at all. Just “no thank you”. He walked away. The power of no is limitless if you say it with conviction.
No Thank You to Yes
Taylor may have been on some new sh*t but I personally will not be saying yes instead of no. I say no to bachelorette parties because I don’t enjoy them (but I love my friends). I say no to speaking engagements that do not align with me. I will even say no to potential clients (nicely of course) if I don’t think I’m the right coach to help them.
No is my power word, it helps me stay within my integrity and it shows me that I trust myself to know when to walk away. I hope this inspires you to add a little more no into your life! Want to chat it out? Coaching sessions are available here – discovery calls are always free for new clients!