top of page

Say “No” More

Written by: Dez Stephens, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I recently attended a workshop attended by staff from multiple agencies, and one of the team building, idea-generating exercises was, “Yes, and …” This exercise is based on the belief that great ideas are generated by accepting others’ ideas and adding to them rather than rejecting them too quickly. While I believe in the premise and the practice when creativity and quantity of ideas are key, there are times when you’re better off shutting things down with a simple, no.

The myth that saying no will cost you relationships or opportunities is often rooted in fear and simply not true. When you are always saying yes in your relationships, chances are, acceptance and validation are what you’re seeking. You may be craving praise or trying to avoid conflict. Habitually placing others' needs above your own, concentrating on their problems while avoiding our own, or always being the rescuer, can be symptomatic of the disease to please.

Genuine thoughtfulness and empathy are excellent traits to have, but the “disease to please” is motivated by a different intention. When you say yes when you really meant no to avoid people being angry or upset with you, your intention is really more about manipulating others’ opinions of you. Side effects include guilt if you say no, and resentment if you say yes. What we fail to understand is no matter what we do to make others happy, we will be left feeling empty if we are not being authentic.

Professionally or personally, when you find yourself piling more to an already full plate and feeling overwhelmed from your workload, ask yourself why? Does your value and validation come from being able to handle a superhuman workload? Have you bought into the myth that saying no is a career killer? Your value doesn’t come from being well-liked or being able to manage multiple projects at once. Your worth is more than what you do for others.

You can learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Saying no is an important skill, but there is an art to it. The truth is people don’t like to hear no, so how you say it matters. Be sure you are saying no to the idea or the request and not the individual. The word no has power, and it is a complete sentence, but adding a few more words will make it a kind one as well. Don’t substitute phrases such as, “Let me think about it,” or “I’m not sure,” as these can be interpreted to mean you might say yes later. Keep it simple, brief, and honest, resisting the urge to over-explain. The more details you offer, the more it may appear you are offering an excuse and the more to dissect.

Resist the notion that taking care of yourself first is selfish (remember the instructions of flight attendants). We must be intentional as the requests for our time, energy and resources are not likely to lessen, so we may have to say “no” more often. Every time you say no to a less than appealing request, you can say yes to something else. The more time you can give to the things that matter to you and the things you truly care about, the more satisfying your life will be.

“Things which matter the most must never be at the mercy of things which matter the least.”Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

For more information, follow Dez on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit her YouTube-Channel and website!


Dez Stephens, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dez Stephens is the Founder + CEO of Radiant Coaches Academy, a social enterprise and prominent international coach training school that certifies individuals to create vibrant, professional, private practices as holistic life coaches, wellness coaches, and business coaches. She is a certified + credentialed coach, master trainer, and marketing strategist. Dez is a social justice entrepreneur, a people's advocate, and planetary activist. She is a co-executive producer of the documentary film "End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock," highlighting Native women fighting to keep clean water on their Native lands in North Dakota and beyond. She is both passionate and sincere in helping people live more meaningful lives as a dedicated global humanitarian and social entrepreneur.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page