How To Get To Yes By Saying No

Poor little No—the word we associate with disappointment, with not getting what we want, with negative reactions. But used appropriately, this tiny word has the power to create large amounts of business and personal success over and over again.

The key is learning when to say no, and how to make it stick.

Shift Your Perspective

Most humans get a good feeling from making others happy, which generally results from giving them what they desire. But what about our own wants and needs? These are also important, and it can require a change of mindset to remember that we are allowed to be good to ourselves—which sometimes translates into saying no.

What we turn down can have as much impact on our future as what we accept, whether we’re building our own business, deciding our next career move, or even choosing what projects to take on within our work team. Rejecting one thing gives us the opportunity to say yes to something that we really want or that we know is more suited to our strengths.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, actor Tom Hanks shared that turning down roles is what put him on the road to his mega-star status. “Saying yes, then you just work,” said Hanks. “But saying no means you made the choice of the type of story you wanted to tell and the type of character you want to play.”

Choose Your Battles

Over time, saying yes to things we don’t want will diminish our own perceived value and in turn lessen any help we could offer to others, so we have to get comfortable with making people aware of our intentions and desires.

Stephen Key, author of the One Simple Idea Series, discussed this in a recent article titled “The Positive Power of Saying No.”

“What if you hurt someone’s feelings? What if this business opportunity never comes along again? Who are you to think you deserve more? But the truth is, when we stretch ourselves thin, we’re not helping anyone. I’ve discovered that when we’re willing to say no, we create an opportunity for a frank, open discussion of what we do want. And the only way to get what you want is to let it be known.”

Claim The Power Of No

If we have a sense that saying yes to something will ultimately be the wrong decision, we have the right to say no. We are entitled to choose the things that keep us growing personally and professionally, even if others don’t like it.

Saying no requires a choice, but the power of that choice can be the difference between living with joy and purpose versus never finding that which really fulfills us.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

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