The Power of No!

“Shout, shout, let it all out. These are the things I can do without!”

— Tears for Fears

Want to improve your productivity? Increase your dignity? Have more “me” time? Enjoy better health?

Allow me to introduce you to a small word that will expand your possibilities and your horizons: NO.

Yep, though there are no conclusive behavioral study numbers to support this theory, I’d venture to say that by incorporating this empowering word more in your daily vocabulary, your productivity will increase by leaps and bounds!

I should know. As a recovering “people pleaser”, I now enjoy a better quality of life, a greater sense of purpose, more opps to cross things off my “to-do” list, and a groovy state of mind by using it and claiming my power.

Think about it. How many times during a day, week, month does a co-worker, cousin, or friend ask you to do something that is inconvenient, inconsiderate, or ill-timed?

More than you’d like, I bet.  Sometimes it’s a slacker relative that wants you to write a “fictional” reference letter. Or the secretary that requests that you pick up her lunch, that’s twenty minutes in the opposite direction of your intended destination. Or a boss that believes that you have no rights to a personal life.

There’s a better way.  Just say no!

REMEMBER—It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters. Be direct, honest, compassionate and tactful in your decline. If possible, you might even want to offer alternative solutions to the person who has need of your help.

Contrary to popular opinion, saying no isn’t the same as being selfish; it’s about establishing boundaries. It’s about self preservation. It’s about balance.

A wise person once said it best, “you can’t give from an empty cup.”

“Just say no”.

Food for thought…

(Image courtesy of under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution generic license.)

Popular search terms for this article:

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Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, popular relationship columnist and Managing Editor at Formerly an "awesome" public relations professional, she now enjoys the spoils of the entrepreneurial life. Additionally, she is a columnist for Technorati.


  1. Evelyn on the 27th December

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thought provoking post…straight to the point! I love your quote at the end, “you can’t give from an empty cup.”

    I’m learning to say no, and not feel bad about it.



  2. Karen Lange on the 27th December

    I thought I’d gotten pretty good at saying no, but after reading this post, I’m rethinking my boundaries a bit. You are correct, it isn’t so much about being selfish as it is about setting healthy boundaries you can live with. Thanks, Jennifer!

  3. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 27th December

    Thanks for weighing in, Karen. As they say, “practice makes perfect.” 🙂

  4. Nikola on the 27th December

    Great article Jen.

    I’m a firm believer in the power of, “That’s not going to work for me.” And, “That’s not going to happen.” I’m too old to do things I really don’t want to do. And as long as I’m not being overbearing, I’m alright with saying “No”.

    Thanks for sharing this insightful article. – Nikola

  5. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 27th December


    I can dig it. I suffered from the “disease to please” for many years. But, I’m recovering. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Marcie on the 27th December

    I’m working on being more direct because people don’t seem to get my subtle ways of saying no. And I agree that it would definitely increase productivity and reduce drama. It may also eliminate future requests.

  7. Steve Sears on the 28th December

    Hi Jennifer:

    Sounds like I’ll be saying “No” more often in 2011 — and with compassion, of course.

    Nice post,


    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 28th December


      You’ll find it to be very liberating. Good luck!

    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 28th December


      B/T/W/ Keep in mind the famous words of Dr. Phil, “We teach people how to treat us by the things we accept.”

  8. Johanna @ on the 28th December

    Hi Jennifer,
    Nice post! Most of the time I don’t know how to decline or say no as I don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. However, saying it nicely and telling them why usually works best, and surprisingly, they say it’s okay.

    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 28th December

      Hi Johanna,

      It works if you work it! Thanks for the feedback.

  9. Wasim Ismail on the 28th December

    Saying No can be tricky at times, and many of the times difficult as your client is pushing you, but just as you mentioned “It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters”

    Sometimes saying no is also a blessing in the long run.

  10. Work From Home Ideas Guy on the 28th December

    Great concept, Jennifer. Reminds me of one of my favorite books – “Go For No!”. The whole idea of not fearing, but embracing, the word “no” changed my whole business life.

    Best to you,

    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 28th December


      Good to know. I’ll have to read this book. Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 28th December


    You’re so right; sometimes it can be a blessing to set boundaries. I appreciate your input.

  12. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 28th December


    Yep. At times you just have to say what you mean and mean what you say. Thanks for weighing in here.

  13. Stephanie on the 29th December

    People have a hard time accepting “no” as an answer because it’s not what they want to hear, but we have to be reminded that self-preservation is the first law of nature. Sometimes “no” is best for both parties. My sister used to say that people should accept “no” as readily as they accept “yes”.

  14. Tri Nguyen on the 3rd January

    I think these are great points. Bring more direct and saying no is a good way to establish boundaries and better oneself and productivity. I often try to be as nice as possible and sometimes I had friends or family ask to give discounts or free web design time to help them. Reading this article and these comments help affirm that saying no it not bad when it causes an excess of time and progress.

  15. Cynthia on the 7th January

    It’s so true. There was a period in my life where I considered having my answering machine message be, “Hello. This is Cynthia. Whatever you’re asking, the answer is no.” There are just way too many things — sometimes even worthwhile things — that just eat your time. So you’re right. It takes a bit of prioritizing and balancing, but learning to say “no” is definitely empowering.

    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 16th January

      Cynthia, that’s funny. 🙂 Sounds like you have this boundary-setting thing down to a science. Good to get your input here.

  16. its good article.
    REMEMBER—It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters.

  17. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 2nd February

    How true. Great reminder!

  18. Te Rina Sullivan on the 8th May

    Hello Jennifer,

    Thank you very much for your post. I am a “people pleaser” and i try to hard at it. I have found myself in situations were im saying “Yes” all the time, and im only 15. You have really opened my eyes and made me realize that it isn’t selfish to say No and adding No to my daily life wouldn’t hurt. Thank you so much

    Sincerely Te Rina

  19. Kamal on the 21st June

    Hi Jennifer,

    Earlier I used to never say NO to anyone who request me to do the favor. But now a days I reject their request with a SOFT NO respectfully. I remember, I read a book some 10 years ago and it had some great effect on my overall personality. The book’s name was “Don’t say yes when you want to say No”.

    Your article just reminded me the days when I was reading the book on this topic.

    A great article in fact. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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