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How to Say No Gracefully

The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.

Warren Buffett

The first secret to having everything you’ve ever wanted in this life is getting clear about what that is. 

The second secret is gracefully saying no to everything that isn’t that. 

Yet, our subconscious can be easily distracted by wanting to be liked or sociable or high performing and mistake that desire for a need to say yes, when really, you know… what’s best for you to say is no. 

As an intentional creator in life and business, learning to gracefully decline can be one of the most powerful tools in your box. 

Here are a few templates to try on for size: 

  • No, thank you. 
  • Thanks for the invite to attend/speak/join, but this is isn’t a fit for me. 
  • I’m so glad you’re doing that, but it’s not my kind of thing. Thanks for the invite. 
  • My current priorities are X,Y, Z. This falls outside of those so I have to say no, thank you. 
  • I’m so happy to be on your radar for this invite, but because of X, it’s not a fit. I’d love to hear of Y in the future. 
  • My plate is full, so I can’t add anything else at this time. Thanks for thinking of me. 
  • You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y. — Loved this one from Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
  • I can’t do it, but X may be able to help. 

In scenarios where you can’t completely decline, but know that you don’t have any more capacity than what’s on your plate currently, you can try: 

  • Yes. My current priorities are X, Y, Z. What should I re-arrange to make space for this? 

As a general rule, resist the temptation to over-explain, make excuses or otherwise feel a need to justify yourself. 

Stand confidently in your NO, to create space for your YES. 

And most importantly, once you’ve said no, stick to it. 

Not sure what should be a Yes or a No? 

Read this.

(Obviously, try not to be an a*hole.) 

Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Have any other recommendations for how to gracefully say NO, to create space for your YES? Or examples of when you’ve put any of these into practice? Share in the comments below.

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