Do You Have a Hard Time Saying “No”?

If “YES” then this post is for you!

If “NO” then please share this post with all your friends who do and move on to something else!

If you do have a hard time saying “No” may I ask you a couple of questions?

  • When you are asked to do something for someone do you almost always instantly say “Yes?”
  • And then within minutes (sometimes seconds) do you ask yourself “Why did I commit to that when I am already way overloaded?”

If you almost always say “Yes” it is most likely that you have developed a “Knee-Jerk” response of saying “Yes” whenever asked to do something!

Truth is – it would be almost impossible for you to instantly change your “Knee-Jerk” responses from “Yes” to “No.”

So would you like a couple of questions that you can begin to immediately use that will allow you to become more thoughtful at when to say “Yes” or when to say “No?”

  • Can you please tell me more?  Sometimes just hearing more of the details of the request will give you more time to consider and if necessary to craft a very diplomatic “No.”
  • Can you please give me a day (a few minutes/an hour/a week) to give your request the careful consideration it deserves?

Observation:  Neither of the two questions above requires you to say “No.”  And in fact a day later you can still say “YES!” to any request you want to help with.

The value of the two questions is that they both buy you time to make a wiser decision and then when necessary the time to craft a thoughtful “No” response!  For example:  “I am honored that you thought of me. If I had the time this is something I would enjoy doing and especially for you. However, as I have given careful consideration to all of the things already on my plate I must regretfully decline.”   (You get the idea)

My life-long mentor Bobb Biehl says “Wisdom is placing Process between Opportunity and Decision.”

For example:

Unwise Person

Opportunity:  Do you want to buy my car?

Process:  None

Decision:  YES!

Wise Person

Opportunity:  Do you want to buy my car?

Process:  (Often the “Process” will be a series of appropriate questions)

  • What kind of car is it?
  • How many miles does it have?
  • Has it ever been in an accident?
  • Is there anything wrong with it?
  • Why do you want to sell it?
  • How much are you asking?

Decision:  Thanks for the opportunity – but for now I will need to pass!

So next time you are asked to do something – can you ask:

• Can you please tell me more?
• Can you please give me a day to give your request the careful consideration it deserves?[su_spacer]

If “YES!” you are well on your way to becoming a Wiser Person!

You would also be wise to put your own “Wise Process” between “Opportunity” & “Decision?”


Your “Process” might include questions like:

  • What exactly am I being asked to do?
  • How much time with it take?
  • By when must it be completed?
  • What will I have to say “No” to in order to say “Yes” to this?
  • Or what present commitments will have to be delayed in order to say “Yes” to this?
  • Will doing this help me move forward with my current commitments/goals?
  • Will this require travel? If “Yes” how might that affect my family?
  • Might there be a financial cost to me personally or to my organization?
  • What might the benefits of saying “Yes” be for me or my organization?
  • What would you add?

Remember you can still say “Yes” to those opportunities that pass the test of your process!  But by having a process for making decisions you can now graciously decline those that you really do not have the current capacity to undertake.

Bob Tiede
Bob Tiedehttps://leadingwithquestions.com/
BOB has been on the staff of Cru for 45 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 6 remarkable grandchildren.
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Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli

My long journey of work and life has often led me to say no …. even when it hurt me !!

Jane Anderson

I learned to say no when I was a stay at home mom. I might not have thought about how to say no gracefully. I probably had some attitude showing. But when saying no at work, it got harder the longer into my career I grew. I noticed that people said no to me, even though I only asked for help when I really needed it. I made up my mind to never say no to helping someone even if it meant having to stay late, skip lunch, or go to work early to complete my own work. I didn’t mind and it was kind of an advantage to me because I learned a lot about many things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I have no problem saying no anymore. If I don’t want to do something or I feel like someone else is better suited, I say no, but I hope that I am kinder about it.

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