Saying No

imgresI reached out to someone this past week for someone who thought she would be the perfect fit for a particular board.  She probably would be but she had the wherewithal to say no.  I applaud her for that.

Saying no is so much more difficult than saying yes.  Yet the problem with saying yes again and again becomes overwhelming to your time and space.  I have no doubt overextended myself time and time again.  It creeps up on you and then all of a sudden you can’t breath.  It is not a pretty place to be and it is not productive for the people you said yes to because you aren’t doing them any favors either.

Deals come into my box all week long.  I look at them all and most of the time say thank you but no.  I have been asked to participate in many events but again take a look and politely say no most of the time.  I could go on and on but now saying no feels even better than saying yes.  If I say yes, I am fully committed not quasi-committed and feeling overwhelmed.

A founder that I am invested in recently just said no to an opportunity that I thought could be worthy.  He knew it but he just couldn’t commit, he had to stay focused on the moment and that would have just been one more thing to add to his plate that he couldn’t take on.  My answer to him was “bravo” for saying no.

I wish I had learned to say no years ago.  It is a skill that needs to be learned very very early on.  For me, it has been a game changer.



Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    Yes. (Meaning I agree) : )

  2. awaldstein

    Agree but i firmly believe that not all Nos are a yes waiting to happen.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Interesting. That’s hopeful but when I say no, the chances of changing it into a yes are slim to none.

      1. awaldstein

        We agree.

      2. Jeremy Robinson

        I like that you have what I’d call a soft no. So many people say no in way that is either very shaming or disparaging. We need to say no, we need to set limits, this much is obvious. It is in fact, one of the most important journeys of good parenting. But we’re also always teaching. So it’s the “how of the no” where the learning comes in for both the person hearing no and the other saying it. After all, almost conversations, especially No Conversations, involve a relationship.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Agree. It is an art form to say no appropriately.

        2. panterosa,

          Jeremy, I agree with no as the journey of good parenting. Joanne talks about the chaos of a willing, but not able, yes. It’s inverse is the security of no. Often, that needs more reinforcing no’s, which you describe well as a dialogue which is itself important.I was a strong “no, and it’s not negotiable” parent, and it brought a lot of clarity, and hence security, to my child. It’s inverse yes was all the more fun and rewarding perhaps. The kind no is still an art, whether you are dealing with a 4 or a 40 yo, but worth the work to achieve, the kind no usually protects everyone.

          1. Jeremy Robinson

            To your point, there’s lots of research supporting the idea that strict parents- i.e.- those who set limits and say no to kids, have kids who feel more secure, and ultimately happier. My son was a kid who was a limit tester and it was a big learning journey for me to set limits with him while still maintaining my sense of humor and equanimity. I had a good Dad moment sometime along the path of his late teen years when I told him that I realized that when I said the word, “No” what he heard was “Oh.” As you can imagine, I had a lot of fun with that one, and the poor lad ended up hearing this joke more than once because I always like to repeat my jokes.

          2. Gotham Gal

            Setting limits with your kids is one of the best things you can do for them and that means saying no

  3. LE

    I could go on and on but now saying no feels even better than saying yes.Yes. I have a name for this. I call it “flipping the reward system”.You’d be surprised at how (once you get the hang of it and it becomes routine) it actually workswith not over eating food. I am 100% serious. You get pleasure from having the will power to turn something away, eat less of it, or not eat it at all.

  4. AMT Editorial Staff

    Once people know that you say “no,” a Yes means that much more.

    1. Gotham Gal

      very true