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Career Insights for Women in Business

Why Can’t We Just Say NO?

No Word Showing Denials Panic And Negativity

No is a complete sentence. ~Unknown

Over the years I have become quite fascinated by this tiny two-letter word ‘no’. Normally in my sales trainings, I encourage participants to get comfortable with the word ‘no’ because it’s a normal part of the sales process.

Unfortunately, you can’t get to yes without a few no’s. Yet this tiny two-letter word has the power to stop people in their tracks because they are afraid of hearing it.

Lately, I’ve noticed that not only do many of us hate to hear it, we also hate to say it. Particularly us ladies.

I will be the first to admit that I am VERY guilty of not saying NO sometimes even when I know I want to or really should.

I love how my husband Toby deals with no, he just says it. He doesn’t offer any explanation nor does he feel any guilt after he says it.

If only that could be the case for myself and many of the women, I work with.

You may be wondering what suddenly piqued my interest in evaluating how I deal with no. It all began in the grocery store.

I recently went out to our neighborhood Fry’s grocery store and as I was walking in I saw the Cub Scouts standing near the exit. I hate to admit it, but my initial thought was “oh great… why can’t I just shop in peace?”

Oh but wait… it gets better. I realized that once I was inside the grocery doing my shopping this was the day for the pillow ladies to be there. O-M-G… these ladies if you aren’t careful will politely hand you a pillow and ask you to squeeze it as they engage in conversation about how you really need new pillows at home.

How do I know? Because I’ve engaged in conversation before with the pillow ladies so I already know what time it is.

And guess what happens next… I make a hard left up the candy aisle so that I can swing back around to get to a cash register without walking next to the pillow ladies.

I mean after all, I still have a cute little Cub Scout just waiting for me once I leave the store and I have NO idea what he has going on.

That’s when it hit me… I was avoiding no in one of the worst ways. I just started laughing to myself. I mean I’m a grown up. Why am I going through all of these additional antics just to avoid saying “No thank you?”

Once you finish laughing at my crazy antics, I want you to think about this.

Where are you doing the same thing? In your home life, work life, etc.

How might your life look different if you said no and felt no guilt about it?

Why is it that we as women have such a hard time saying no and when we do we often feel guilty about it or we feel that we owe an explanation? Where did we learn that it was somehow wrong for us to say no?

Trust me… most men do NOT have that problem.

Here are two simple tips to remember the next time you choose to say no and you’re tempted to feel guilty or explain yourself, simply remember this:

  1. No is a complete sentence (no explanation needed).
  2. Guilt is a choice. You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. They won’t die because you said no. Choose to also say no to the guilt.

You may need to start with baby steps so I encourage you to just pay attention to when you say or don’t say no to something. You can also do as I did and notice where you are going out of your way to avoid saying no.

Do you have a funny story to share about attempting to avoid saying no? I would love to hear it. Simply send me an email at I look forward to hearing from you.

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