Nine Steps to No

You *can do it!

This was rewritten from a terrific post from Peter Bregman on the Harvard Business Review blog. See his pic and the link below!

Know Your No

Identify what's important, and what's not. If you don't know where you DO want to spend your time, you don't know where to NOT spend your time. All other steps follow this one.

Be Appreciative

People ask you for help because they recognise that you CAN help. So thank them for putting their trust in you. This DOES NOT mean Yes. It's an just acknowledgement of their confidence in you.

Say no to the request, not the person.

You've been invited to contribute, so decline the invitation, not the person. Make it clear. State your respect for the person and their offer. Offer examples of their work that you admire. But still say no.

Explain why

You don't have to go into reams of detail about why you can't accept the invitation. But a reason can make a difference. Maybe you are too busy. Perhaps you feel out of your depth. Be honest.

Be as resolute as they are pushy

I have real trouble with this one. I give in. Don't give in! Know why you are saying no, and stick to your resolution.


Practice makes perfect. If you really struggle, start with some easy steps. Refuse a second helping at dinner, or refuse to buy something from a street seller. Practice, practice, practice.

Establish a pre-emptive no

I love this one. Set boundaries with your most frequent 'asker', for example your boss, about the parameters of your job. Then you have a previous conversation to refer to if the demands become too great.

Be prepared to miss out

Noooooooo. I hate missing out. But sometime you have to because you can't be in two places at once, or you need to focus on a particular project. When you say no, make it a choice that is of benefit to you.

Gather your courage

If you are a yes person, then saying no can be difficult. You might feel bad the first time you do it. And maybe the second too. But it will get easier. And you will get your life back.