6 Reasons to Say “No” (with Solveig Pedersen)

Solveig PedersenI’m not even going to pretend Solveig Pedersen (solandheart.com) isn’t one of my favorite people to talk to. She is such a sweet person and I love being able to share her insights with you guys via Skype interviews.

I recently had the good pleasure of talking with Solveig about the importance of saying “no” when an opportunity doesn’t fit your values, strengths, or ability to see it through. During this 20-minute conversation we discuss our shared status as “recovering over-committers,” just how negative “yes” can be, and why opportunity and guilt can be so compelling…for better or for worse.

The takeaways from this conversation can be found just below the embedded video. Enjoy!

Can’t see the video? Click here

5 Reasons we say “yes” to the wrong things:
  • A sense of guilt that we are acting selfishly
  • The fear of missing an opportunity
  • We want to build social capital
  • The fear of disappointing someone
  • We have a terrible sense of how much time we have to spend
And 6 ways to make better choices:
  • Take care of yourself first
    Your value to others is directly related to how well you take care of yourself. Putting yourself first at the right times affords you a greater ability to help others in the long run. Develop and understanding of the difference between selfish and self-care.
  • Know yourself
    Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, and the things that excite you is critical as you determine which opportunities to accept and which to decline. When you say yes to the things that leverage your skills and passions you will be more inspired and effective. Don’t spend your limited time on projects that don’t excite you; it doesn’t serve you or the project well to have you moping about because you are bored or disengaged.
  • Get real about how much time you have
    Most of us are operating from a ridiculous time deficit. We already have more to do than we can accomplish in the near term, yet we continue to take on more. Before you agree to one more thing, take a few minutes to reflect on how you will fit it into your life. What will have to go in order to make room for this new opportunity? Is it worth it?
  • Put guilt in its place
    Guilt can be a useful feeling, but much of the time we have a distorted sense of guilt. Become disciplined about making choices for strategic reasons and leave guilt out of the equation as much as you can.
  • Understand the value of saying “no” now
    Saying yes because you don’t know how to say “no” will get you into plenty of trouble. For the sake of your credibility and reputation learn to assess opportunities against the time and energy you have available so that you can say “no” to projects you can’t complete. A “no” now is so much better than a “no” later when you’ve made promises you can’t keep.
  • Prove your values
    Let every “yes” demonstrate the clarity you have about your values and priorities. When a project aligns with the things you value (assuming you have the time & energy) say “yes!” If it doesn’t, gracefully decline citing a lack of strategic alignment with your values. The work you do will be more meaningful and showcase that you are crystal clear on what you value most.