How To Say No Without Feeling Guilty

just say no


Do you have too much on your plate?

Do you feel as though you’re drowning in your ever increasing to do list of important jobs?

Are there jobs on there which you reluctantly agreed to do because you didn’t know how to say NO?

If so, read on because in this post I’m going to reveal some nifty techniques that will help you recoup time by refusing to do activities which are not going to benefit you or your business.

What’s more, I’m going to show you how to do it without feeling guilty.

Interested? Then let’s go.

1. Learn to recognise and let go of the guilt.

Perhaps a client asks you to deliver something in a ridiculous timescale. Or maybe you get asked to attend a client meeting at a time that will interfere with another commitment. It can be so easy to feel bad for letting someone else down and guilt can make you take something on you really didn’t want to do.

But here’s the deal.

It’s your valuable time that you’re giving up.

So get clear on why you feel the way that you do. What do you think will happen if you say no? Are you worried about losing a client or damaging your reputation? It helps to work through the root cause of your guilt because this empowers you to think differently.
And then just let the guilt go…

2. Know what your time is worth.

If you’re clear on your hourly rate, it becomes far easier to identify which tasks you should and shouldn’t be doing. I explain this critical ‘what is your time worth‘ calculation in an earlier post.

With this hourly rate you can make decisions in black and white. Is this job you want me to do going to deliver against my hourly rate – yes or no?

If yes, it may be worth taking it on. If no, it’s time to decline.

And if you feel the need to do the job, consider charging a premium if you’re asked to deliver something at very short notice or if you need to work outside of your normal hours (like weekends). That way at least there’s a payoff for you too.

3. Value your time.

This sounds obvious but often in business you can feel obliged to put the needs of your clients in front of your own. Resist the temptation to do that and instead value your own time.

This may involve setting boundaries that define when you will work and how much you will charge. Perhaps beyond those hours are times for the children, down time for you or quality time with your partner. By segregating your time up like this it can help you make a decision because you can more easily weigh up what you’ll have to give up (and who else you’ll disappoint) if you say yes.

In addition these boundaries gives you that all important why. You can explain that you’re not able to do that particular task because it conflicts with a family commitment or a prior engagement. The why is incredibly powerful because it offers the justification behind your choice – it’s not just a case of saying “no”.

4. Offer alternatives.

Instead of offering a blanket “no” make suggestions for other ways that a client could get their needs met. Perhaps you know someone else who can help so you refer, or perhaps you offer to do the work but at a more convenient time for you.
How can anyone guilt you into doing something if you give them a viable alternative? And if they try, do you really want to be working with this person anyway.

Release pressure.

Taking on things that you resent or are unable to cope with can add a lot of pressure to your working day. It means you need to re-prioritise your tasks you may even be forced to let something else slip. Often it’s the high value work such as your marketing or other activities where you focus ON your business that get ditched.

Which means if you consistently take on jobs where you really should have said no, your productivity is going to suffer.

So by all means do what you can to delight your customer, within reason. But make sure you say yes to the right work – it will pay off in the long run.

But what do you think? Do you say yes when you really mean no? What strategies do you use when you need to let a client down? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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