6 Ways to Say No

‘I had to say no to things I really wanted to say yes to, because I’d said yes to things I wasn’t certain I could say no to‘

– author Ximena Vengoechea in the article “Six Steps to Say No and Not Feel Guilty”

I agree with the author. I have had many ‘coffee meetings’ that did not turn into a friendship or a collaboration when perhaps I should have just had a phone call or an email exchange.

Here are some of the author’s wisdom I’d like to share with you.

As she says, you can balance your time, be your best self, and still help the ones you don’t know well yet:

1. Default to NO

 When you default to no, you only spend time meeting people you are 100% sure you can help and have a positive relationship with

2. Even if the invite is coming from a friend of a friend

“Our mutual friend X said I should reach out because we both work at startups. Would love to chat. Can we meet this week?” 

  • Commit to a response, not a meeting
  • Have a ‘low impact response like numbers 3-5 below.

3. Find an Alternate Mini ‘Yes’ That Can Still Help a Person

Instead of a 15 min. plus phone call:

  • Take 3 questions via email from them – then answer at your leisure
  • They still want to see you? – meet the individual at a Chamber or Industry event you are already planning to attend.

4. Learn to Say No with Grace

Without burning any bridges: Try this sample script:

“Thank you so much for thinking of me. I’m flattered that you thought of me for X project/opportunity/meeting. Unfortunately, I’ve had to really limit my commitments this month, so I’m going to have to pass at the moment. That said, you might find X resource helpful if you haven’t consulted it already. Best of luck, and thanks again for reaching out.”

5. Know when to make an exception and Say Yes

Consider ahead of time:   What do you hope to gain from talking to X or working on X project with this person – How does this ‘align with your values and goals. Create a ‘Yes factors’ chart

How does this help you be at your best personally and professionally?

6. Enjoy the Time You Get Back Thoughtfully

Saying “no” can free up time for other things such as:  Time to write your book, more time to serve others, connect with loved ones or be more spontaneous or volunteering in the community


How about you?

And you thought there was only one way to say ‘no’!