Peace, Productivity, and How To Say No

How to say No is a popular discussion during my Time Management training workshops. Participants are so concerned, I now dedicate a whole module to how to say No.

Saying No is stressful. We hate saying No. We feel guilty saying No. Yet, if we don’t say No – at least sometimes – we risk burnout, not meeting our own goals/objectives and perhaps even physical illness.

As a business owner whose success depends on my clients being happy, I understand there are many times that saying Yes is the right thing to do.  Important situations OR opportunities will arise where we will want to roll up our sleeves and put aside our planned Important Work.  But lets be really clear that every time we say Yes, it’s an interruption to our own Important Work which translates to putting the quality of our Important Work and our work/life balance at risk.  

Saying Yes is a serious productivity and employee satisfaction challenge.  

What Are We Risking When We Say Yes… or Say No? 

How To Say No

*Sharpen The Saw is Habit #7 of Stephen R. Coveys 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

There are two sides to every action – for example, if you are saying Yes to helping someone, you are also saying No to your objectives; you are putting your QI and QII plans / objectives in jeopardy. If you say Yes – are you compromising what is important to you? 

How To Say No

*Sharpen The Saw is Habit #7 of Stephen R. Coveys 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

The above demonstrates that you accept many risks when you say Yes… and there are perhaps many more benefits to saying No than you might have expected.

In so many ways, if you are not caring for yourself first you risk being overwhelmed.

Saying Yes Puts Our Priorities & Work/Life Balance In Jeopardy

What do we say Yes to?

  • Long hours at the office
  • Friends needing a favour… all the time
  • Clients that… need… and need
  • Habits like late night news and junk food

Saying Yes puts you in harmony with others (for a short time), vs. always being in harmony with yourself or your goals.

I don’t think it’s surprising that people who say Yes are often:

  • Dedicated
  • Take pride in doing good work
  • Do ‘What’s Necessary’ for the team/company

Unfortunately that means these dedicated employees also:

  • Work nights and weekends regularly
  • Often / always feel behind
  • Risk burnout
  • Eventually seek out new opportunities where they can regain work/life balance

I always ask attendees in my Time Management training workshops to evaluate if they are putting their personal and corporate dreams and long-term goals (QI and QII goals), in jeopardy. So, let me ask you, “Do you put your personal and corporate dreams and long-term goals (QI and QII goals), in jeopardy?

It’s Hard To Say No

It’s natural to struggle with your feelings when you say No… feeling like you are not a team player – worrying about when you will need to ask someone for something or a favour.

It’s also fantastic to feel liked and helpful. Coming to the rescue of someone in crisis feels good… but the cost might be high… for you.

Solution To… How To Say No

If you don’t want to say No, can you say, ‘Yes… but not now’?

For Example, instead of interrupting your Important Work, say, “Yes, can you give me until 3PM? I can be all yours at 3PM and I have a full hour available.”

Let them know care about them. Don’t be cold – be empathetic. Take the time to say No… or not now with respect for yourself and the other person.

Explaining why will be much better received – and the people will respect you and your time.


Stopping your Important Work lowers your concentration, productivity and puts your deadlines at risk.  Saying No can be an important friend… helping you keep your big picture in mind.

If you learn to say No even 30% the time, that will make a difference to YOUR success.

Say No wisely – let it help you avoid stressful, urgent situations. Saying No is a way for you and your organization to be more productive. 

Happy communicating, creating workplace harmony and reducing employee turnover.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

2 Responses to Peace, Productivity, and How To Say No

  1. david_h says:

    Reblogged this on Getting Things Done accountant and commented:
    Deferring requests so you can work on Quadrant 2 items (important but not urgent) allows you to create additional time in the future for other important work. As the saying goes “No is not a four letter word”. Bruce’s article gives some great ways to say no without slamming the door shut on the person making the ask.

  2. connie says:

    Some great thoughts.

    I try to say “yes” to the things that align with my own objectives. Along the lines of your idea of deferring (“yes, but not now”), I have also learned to set other parameters around what I say yes to (“I don’t have enough time to do everything you want, but here is how I can help.”) As well, instead of saying an outright “no”, I will often say “I cannot help you but I know someone who is a lot better suited to help you” and refer to a contact who I know would love to take on the project.

I’ll enjoy reading your thoughts and your experiences.

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