It’s Okay to Say No

say no

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a full schedule. Full of work, fitness classes, time with my husband, volunteer commitments, and time out with my friends. For many years I was a “yes” gal. You asked, I made time to do it. You asked, I shifted things around to fit it in. I gave up available time (usually time at home) that I really couldn’t afford to lose. I wore myself ragged.

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And why? Because of #FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Because I felt like I had to please everyone. Because I wanted people to know I could be helpful.

And I was helpful. (Too helpful sometimes.) And I did please people. (At the expense of my health and sanity.) And I still missed out on opportunities. (Because there are more concerts to go to and boards to sit on than I can possibly do on my own.)

In the past few years, I’ve been working to change this. I recently received a solid piece of advice from a friend who said, “Be respectful of your time.”

It seemed so simple. Such a “wow” idea.

And I understand what he meant. Saying no is generally seen as aggressive. People want to be pleasant and helpful. The word “no” can sound harsh or unwilling.

And you know what? It’s okay to have limits. It’s okay to be inflexible sometimes.

I made a change to advocate for my time because, let’s face it, most people will squeeze in fifteen minutes with you if they can, and those little meetings start to fill your calendar pretty fast.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no.


No, I don’t have time for a quick phone call today, can we find another time?

No, I’m not available to go to lunch so you can pick my brain.

No, I cannot attend four volunteer events this month.

No, I can’t afford to go to that concert with you, but thanks for the invitation.

Understand your own time needs. Are your meetings squished so close together that you’re going to be late to all of them if each runs over just a few minutes? Or, did you really need to get to the gym to decompress but booked a dinner instead?

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Be respectful of your own time. Know that other people will not be offended if you need to reschedule a meeting or social hour, but remember to be respectful of their time, too.

Alissa M. Trumbull

Alissa M. Trumbull recently co-founded #BizGalz, a Twitter chat starting in September 2015 geared for women in all stages of life and career. She is also one-half of the Social Outlaws, a new blog dedicated to the areas of social media and social business. Passionate about business ethics, Alissa seeks opportunities to strengthen individuals and organizations through the application of best practices and human understanding. She is also a graphic designer, voracious reader, and fitness enthusiast. Always remember that the more love you pour into the world, the greater your reward. Don't be afraid to risk for what's important!

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