CG #38 – An Easier Way to Say “No”

Because shouting “Have you lost your mind?” isn’t an option.

Word Count: 464

Reading Time: Under 2 minutes

This is for when a client or boss wants something done exactly their way and they want it done NOW and you just cannot see how it can happen their way or in their timeframe.  At that exact moment, you will suppress the most powerful, easy-to-hear response because you believe it is somehow not allowed.

Don’t go for the whole enchilada

Saying “No” is not black and white:  It’s more skillful to say no in shades of gray, that is, to say no to certain aspects of a request or demand.  It’s more skillful to say yes in shades of gray too, but that’s for another post.

Your immediate, unfiltered, authentic response will open up the shades of gray in  black and white thinking of your client or boss.  It will open up the shades of gray in your thinking too.

All you need is a tiny chink in the armor of their urgency. If you are willing to go step-by-step, you can use that opening help them see the impossibility of their initial request.

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Try saying “no” in 2 steps this week, and let me know how it goes.



  1. Gabriella Ruiz says

    I am terrible at saying “no”. Because of this I spread myself too thin and end up really stressed out on a regular basis. This goes for all aspects of my life: personal, family, school, and work. This was really helpful because the verbiage suggestions are doable. As a supervisor you have to be conscious of what your team can handle, so that a project or assignment doesn’t fail. In a recent experience, I was the supervisor of a collaborative grant with a partnering agency. This particular agency was really terrible at communication and let clients fall through the cracks. They did not provide the adequate effort to make this particular project succeed and my team ended up having to do most of the work while cleaning up the mess with unhappy clients. After the project was completed, I was approached to collaborate with them again especially because they had lost funding and needed a collaborating agency to apply for a new project. I knew what the answer had to be, but it was really hard for me because I did feel bad. However, I had to make the best choice for my team and the answer had to be “no”, because we wouldn’t be given the necessary tools to make a project succeed.

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