The profound effect of saying “No”

“Just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work” – Seth Godin

I’ve always been involved in team sports so sharing success and having a sense of teamwork were engrained into me as what you do from a young age. The same principles applied at work since supporting colleagues was gratifying, sometimes necessary and a way for the team to grow. This mindset served me well until it got to a level where I started constantly putting the priorities of others ahead of mine. In a strange way I became more effective in my job when I learnt that saying “No” isn’t always a bad thing. 

Let me be clear I’m still an advocate of teamwork. However, we need to have boundaries. For instance, how do you feel when you’re working long hours but not achieving your goals?




You might even feel stressed. Consider this, 29% of Australian workers are either often or always stressed and nearly half the workforce feels stressed sometimes (Source: 2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace - Barna Research).

Part of the reason why people are uncomfortable saying “No” happens when they’re intrinsically a pleaser. It’s in their makeup as to who they are - they put others needs ahead of their own. Now that’s a terrific attribute to have, but not at the expense of not delivering what needs to be done. Workers like this need to be given permission that it’s sometimes ok to say “No.”

Benefits from learning what to say “No” to are:

  • More time to self
  • Improved productivity
  • Greater focus on what matters most

Imagine how much more effective you could be if you devoted an extra 5%, 10% or even 20% on your important high impact work? Having the choice to say “No” as an option was a simple productivity trick that made a world of difference to me.

What do you need to start saying “No” to?