How good are you at saying “No”?

In a recent post on What Would Make Women Happier, learning to say no more was ranked as number #9. Interestingly it didn’t make the top 10 for the men’s list.

Personally I struggle with this a lot. It’s just not in my nature to say no. I love to help people and give advice etc. But lately I feel a bit overwhelmed. And when I over commit and end up participating in things I just don’t have the time and energy for I feel worse because I can feel that resentment bubbling up and probably showing through. I am wondering how other BrandTwist readers (men and women) deal with this. Any advice on how decide when to say “no” and how to stick with it?

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. As the “go to” gal for family, friends and colleagues for guidance on many fronts, it can be a whirlwind of questions and requests. Some of them just can’t be refused and some are just downright fun (like when cousin asks,”would you come w/me to try on wedding dresses?”) I love sharing information and the feeling of being helpful & valued can’t be beat.

    That said, I’ve learned that while you can be in two places at once, you (and your brain) can’t be in three and priorities must be considered. If doing one thing might jeopardize something else, (even if it’s your sanity) then a “sorry, not at this time” is the only way to go. Being fully focused is much more beneficial to everyone involved than being half there. Those that really value your input (and time) will understand.

  2. @susanR I agree that feeling of being needed and useful is really intoxicating. I like your point on being fully focused. It’s true. I can’t stand when I am asking someone advice and they’ve got one eye on the blackberry or watch. It defeats the whole purpose and usually makes me feel worse then not getting their input.

    Thanks for the great comment.


  3. Julie: I’m not telling you! Oh alright. I think you have to decide what kind of person you are and what kind you’d like to be. Then behave like the person you’d like to be. But make sure you are truthful. Everyone wants to be the good guy. But only some are really prepared to live with the implications. Trying to be the go to person for everyone if you’re not really cut out for it, is a recipe for resentment as you point out. That’s my first thought.

    Second: Keep a small inner circle. Never say no to them. Feel free to say no to those not in the circle.

    I have a few more thoughts but instead of sharing them, I’m going to rejoin my Disney World experience with my kids. It’s all about prioritization.

    Good topic!

  4. This is such a great topic and so vital to building a life that is fulfilling, purposeful, and intoxicating.

    Fulfilling and purposeful feel like the things I hear my mother, my business professor, and all my self-help books saying. Intoxicating is what I truly strive for now because I realize I have outgrown the “me” stage (just learned this last Tuesday) and now need to show what life is for those that follow me: my kids, my employees, and those involved in the social causes I support. Oh, and i need to do it for myself.

    I had a big wake-up call when a dear friend of mine…one who is truly intoxicating…was so close to losing her life that I had to look myself straight in the eye and ask all kinds of questions. I realized while I sat next to her hospital bed that she had lived everyday the way I wanted to in many ways, and yet the one thing she wanted was something i had and likely underappreciated: a partner who shared a passion for life.

    Once you are lucky enough to have so many great things offering themselves up to you that you have to say “no”, it’s time to celebrate.

    The more I do, the more intoxicated I become….and I’m damn proud of it. When it becomes too much, I know because of the intensity hangover I get. The most important thing for me when this happens is to replenish my energy through the people, activities, and the quiet that stimulates me.

    This blog stimulates me….and I’m so proud of the woman behind it because she continues to be a huge role model for me.

    • @ Andrea I love your comment and I am intoxicated by your passion and enthusiasm.

      I particularly love:

      “Once you are lucky enough to have so many great things offering themselves up to you that you have to say “no”, it’s time to celebrate.”

      You are so right. It’s important to look at the upside of feeling overwhelmed. It means you have a rich and full life.

      Thanks so much for reminding us all and for your very kind words on the blog. Right back at you sister.


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