Do you find yourself having a tough time saying “No”? I find that for myself, and for many of my coaching clients it seems difficult. Servant leaders love to please, and if you are not careful, you end up with too much on your plate, and your life can quickly get out of balance.
I talk often about the importance of self-development as well as extreme self-care. For servant leaders, both of these areas are extremely important in being the very best you can be for those you lead.
Learning to say “No” may be one of the most important personal, professional, and leadership tools a servant leader can have. From my experience I have found this to be a unique and many times rare skill. Working on the ability to say no can definitely advance your well being as well as your leadership development.
Saying no, as hard as it is, can come with significant rewards:
- Saying no keeps you from the stress of over committing
- Saying no enhances balance and protects family life
- Saying no enables the proper time for what matters most
- Saying no preserves energy levels for priority work
- Saying no allows development that others wouldn’t have had if you always say yes
- Saying no allows you to take control of your schedule
A great way to enhance your ability to say no is to have your purpose, vision, and values clearly defined. Your strategy and goals for the accomplishment of your purpose and vision will provide priority in your life. If something doesn’t fall within these priorities, you have a great reason to say no.
Another tool in knowing when to say no is the understanding of your strengths, and things you are passionate about. Staying focused on areas of strength and passion will help you maintain energy. Working in areas of weakness is draining, say no in these areas.
Use your purpose, vision, values, and strengths as a funnel for knowing when to say “No”. This will keep you energized, in balance, and able to best serve those within your sphere of influence. You deserve this, as do those with whom you lead.
“A No uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a Yes…uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” Mahatma Gandi
Great reminders Mark. I’ve always tried to keep in mind that saying NO to some things allows me to say YES to the things that I’m passionate about and are important to me.
Saying “no” is a tremendous ability that needs to be developed. In our over-committed society, it’s obvious that it’s not just the people-pleasers (like myself) who need more discipline in this area. Thanks for bringing these up.
I find that not only at work but with my volunteer efforts it is a skill that must be learned. How you communicate the “no” is as important as knowing when.
Randy, David, Kirk,
Thanks so much for your outstanding insights on the benefits of saying “No”. I am personally challenged by this myself, so your comments are extremely helpful in encouraging me to get better in this area as well! I really appreciate you weighing in on the topic!
I too struggle with saying ‘No’ because of being a people pleaser. Thanks for reminding me that it is ok to say ‘No’. It is so true that learning to do that helps you not over-book your life. Thanks for another great subject, Mark!
So often it’s difficult to say no because we mix up the request with the person making the request. So when I say no, what I am really saying is no to the request (either given what the request is or not just at this time) but this does not mean I am saying no to or rejecting per person making the request. Similary, when someone says no to me, it just means either no-not right now, or no-but I still love you and my saying is not a rejection of you. As we recognize this, it becomes easier to say no as well as to hear no. When I came to this realization, it’s been much easier for me to say no, and it’s working just fine for all.
Thank you so much for these very insightful comments on helping a person to say “No”. That is extremely helpful advice, and as a matter of fact it just helped me to say no today. As always, I really appreciate you weighing in on the topics!!