The Power of Saying No. Ric Elias, Jason Fried and Ryan Holiday have all written about the importance of valuing and managing time. A key tenant to this is the importance of saying “no”. So often it is too easy for us to say “yes” to a future obligation such a meeting, conference, or other invitation, without giving a second thought to the consequences of saying “yes”. By saying “yes” to a future obligation today, it takes away our ability to say “yes” to something else. So why is it so easy or convenient to say “yes”. It may because we do not want to disappoint other people, or we’re afraid of conflict, or it’s because of a social norm or pressure from people trying to get something from you or guilting you into doing something you really don’t want to do.
We also have a tendency to discount the time commitment of a future obligation. We must ask ourselves: how much extra time will this commitment involve: travel time, preparation time or cancellation and rescheduling risk. We must also be cognizant of the fact that time is the one thing we cannot get back or buy more of; so we must protect our time for what really matters, for what brings us joy, fulfilment or growth.
So what’s the best way to say no. Be direct and honest. Perhaps start by giving a compliment, before declining the request, or offering an alternative or lead to another person. If you need more time to think about it, then communicate that. The author Steven Covey wrote: “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” Tap into the power of saying no.