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How to Say "No" in Business and Life

The Power of Saying "NO"

I love celebrating with my clients when they get a YES! And I get just as excited if they receive a NO.

But I get even more amped when they give a NO.

As we build something, whether it's a business or a new life, it's so easy to track progress through the string of YESes we link together.

This is often the easiest metric to look at and helps assure us that we're making things happen.

But I think it's even more important to track our NOs and to celebrate them.

A NO could mean that...
  • you're pushing the possibilities

  • you're protecting a boundary

  • you're taking a risk

  • you're trying something new

  • you're countering the status quo

  • you're standing up for yourself

  • you're prioritizing your values

  • or so many other valuable steps in business and life!

Saying NO is a wonderful way of knowing what our edges are, a great indicator of where you can channel learning energy, a sign of space for discovery.

So... how can you practice this?

How to Start Saying NO When It's Not a Yes

1. Listen to your body

Your body is wise and often registers what you want before you brain does. So when thinking through something, I always recommend tapping into your body and seeing what it knows.

  • Are you squirming when someone is asking you a favor?

  • Are you tense when your client is telling you they you to rush something?

  • Are your shoulders up to your ears when working on a specific task?

By paying attention to how your body responds to specific situations, you can unearth truths, untouched by our need to please or to achieve.

2. Determine who's talking

When something is asked of you, what is the conversation taking place in your mind? Who wants to move forward and who doesn't? What part of you is compelled to say yes, what part of you wants to say no? One of the biggest indicators that you want to say YES or NO is how much you're negotiating with yourself, how easily you can make a case for something or against something. Typically, the shorter the conversation, the less you need to negotiate, the more likely it is that you do or don't want to move forward. By getting to know the various parts of yourself, the more likely you are to know when you're being true to the real you and when you're trying to convince yourself into something.

3. Play out the best and worse case scenario

The true cost of doing something we don't want to do isn't always visible right off the bat. It's really easy to make choices in a vacuum-- what's the harm of taking on another client when we're already stretched thin? In the short term, maybe not much, but in the long term? It could be catastrophic. By thinking through the best case and worse case scenarios of a decision, we're putting the choice into a context of time and into a real situation. It's much harder to lie to ourselves. A great exercise is to think through the cascade of implications this could have for the best or the worse case scenario.

Remember, giving a NO is affirming yourself. It's taking up space, having an opinion of your own, and valuing your worth.

Figure Out Your "Yeses" and "Nos" in Your Business

In the course "Your Services Roadmap" I created specifically for freelancers and creative entrepreneurs, we intentionally examine our business offerings to decide what aligns and what doesn't so you can take the guesswork out of the equation when taking on new clients and new projects.

No more decision fatigue, no more guessing, and no more regretting. Instead, you'll have clarity, confidence, and the systems in place so the YESes feel right and your NOs are easy to give.

Tell me: Are you collecting your NOs? Are you using them as clues on the journey of YES? Are you celebrating when you NO your way back into yourself? Let me know!

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