G Letter - SPRING 2018 - Stop Saying Yes When You Want to Say No

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“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Warren Buffett


Saying yes too often results in overbooking your time.  When flights get overbooked, passengers get bumped--it’s that simple, because there are a fixed number of seats on a plane just like there are a fixed number of hours in a day.  What this means practically speaking is that you will disappoint other people whether you say no upfront or later on.  It’s better to disappoint people up front than to pull the rug out from underneath them down the road when you are forced to renege after making a commitment you shouldn’t have made.  

Saying yes to too many people makes things harder both for you and for the people you’ve committed to.  It can create resentment that can manifest itself in lots of toxic ways and it puts the people you say yes to in a tough bind if and when you have to back out at the last minute.

Cultivate the willingness to say no in the face of social pressure.  As Napoleon Hill said, “fear, the worst of all enemies can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage”.  Start small, say no to things that aren’t very important so you’ll be comfortable saying no when it really matters.  It’s natural to not want to disappoint people, particularly the most important people in your life.  Fear is at the root of this fear--fear of being judged, rejected or disliked.  Unfortunately, not setting healthy boundaries almost always results in disappointment, so learn how to say no with kindness from the beginning.

3 Tips For Saying No:

  1. Be honest, direct and polite.  Don’t apologize but make clear that you don’t make commitments unless you are sure you can live up to them

  2. Don’t waffle, be firm and final

  3. Practice saying no in situations where you’re dealing with people you don’t know--this will make it easier when you are confronted with saying no to people who are an integral part of your life