When You Should Say No

Do you feel like you are always saying “no,” or are you the person who always says “yes” to employee requests, to teammate requests, or even to your children’s requests?

Whether you are a new or seasoned leader, knowing when to say yes and when to hold your ground with a no will not only assist you in your leadership but it will also allow your team to learn from your decisions.

My answer rule is pretty easy: Say yes when you can so you can say no when you must. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “I have no problem saying no, and I do it all the time!” Then there are just as many of you who say yes all the time because no seems too dominant or dictatorial.

Well, as a leader, that last thing we want to be is dictatorial, but we also can’t say yes to every request that comes our way. So how do we strike a balance? It’s simple; say yes when you can and no when you must. Below are my boundary points.

When to say yes:

  • When it puts no strain on the team or the company.
  • When you have the opportunity to serve your team by accommodating a simple request.
  • When it cannot be perceived as a privilege.
  • When it’s a matter of personal opinion and brings no harm.

When to say no:

  • When a yes will put undue stress on other teammates.
  • When a yes would put the company in harm’s way.
  • When a yes is would be playing favorites or giving perks to a buddy.
  • When a yes would go against your values or ethics.

When you’re able to say yes until you have to say no, your “no’s” are usually taken well because your team understands that you say yes when you can and you have good reasoning for saying no. It also gives you the confidence in saying no because you can clearly identify situations when “no” is the best answer.


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