How to Say “No” When You Need to

Many leaders struggle to say “no” when they need to, so they end up feeling frustrated, resentful or simply exhausted.

But there are ways to say “no” more easily when you understand what is really holding you back, and how to respond to undesirable requests or demands.

Gayle Lantz explains why saying “no” can be so challenging for some people in different scenarios. For example, some leaders may feel guilty or obligated. Others may lack confidence or assertiveness. Other reasons include conflict avoidance and fear of rejection or fear of other negative consequences.

She offers polite and respectful ways to say “no” in some of the most common business scenarios that leaders and other people experience. 

This episode builds on the previous episode (#159): Create Boundaries that Stick with Marlene Chism.

Being able to say “no” is an important part of setting boundaries. It requires a shift in action and mindset.

As Gayle states, “One of the keys to saying ‘NO’ more easily is being very clear on what you’ll say ‘YES’ to.” 

Leaders, in particular, must be clear about their top priorities, what’s most important, where they can contribute the highest value. And they must adhere to their personal values. It makes their decisions much easier.

This episode covers:

  • Why saying “No” can be so challenging
  • When to say “No” in your work and personal life
  • How to say “No” in a way that helps you and other people (e.g., be direct, avoid over-apologizing, offer an alternative)
  • Common challenging scenarios in which you often want to say “No” and how to think about them instead


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