For the past few weeks, putting others first has been a consistent theme in my coaching sessions with clients so I thought it would be appropriate for me to share this topic today.

Plus, I’m getting ready to hop on a plane again and the challenge of saying yes to no has come up for me as well.

Is “no” is a dirty word for you? A word that sounds like profanity when it slips past your lips?

I get it.

You don’t like to disappoint people – especially the people who are closest to you — your family, your friends, and probably even your clients or your boss.

If you find yourself saying “yes” when someone asks you to do something that you don’t really want to do and know will suck the life out of you, you have just taken a detour from Success Street and peace of mind.

Why do I say that?, you ask.

Well, I know because I’m a recovering people pleaser and I’ve taken that detour myself.

I like to be liked.

It feels good to be liked.

But, if you’re serious about being a leader, getting what you want, and being recognized for who you are, then you know that being liked isn’t doesn’t necessarily get you influence or opportunity.

In fact, it’s more likely that people will say aloud or think to themselves that you are a “nice person” – and that doesn’t put money in your bank account, pay your bills, get you more clients, or that big promotion.

Maybe you are uncomfortable with conflict, and feel that saying “no” will result in disappointment or worse – the other person getting angry with you.

I get that. I was once afraid of confrontation of any kind.

Or, maybe you worry that if you say “no”, you’ll miss out on something life-changing – and regret it forever.

Yep. I’ve been there, too.

So, what happens?

You say “yes” to activities that are ultimately not in your best interest because you want people to say, “Isn’t (fill in your name) amazing? How does he/she do it?!?”

Because you’re more concerned about what others think about you, you end up overwhelmed, overcommitted, and over-full. Ultimately someone else is allowed to lead your life.

Successful leaders say “no” with ease and grace. They say it joyfully, knowing that it allows them to stay focused on where they’re going and not get sidetracked by other people’s priorities.

Here are three (3) strategies to confidently step up as the leader you were meant to be, say “no”, and resist the urge to say “yes” —

1. Be Reflective: You may remember that months ago I spoke about the power of the pause. This is when you give yourself the space to reflect and be okay with not jumping into action on-the spot. When asked if you’re available to (fill-in-the-blank), the best response is “This sounds like a great opportunity. Let me review my current commitments and get back to you.” It’s just too tempting to let, “Sure, I can do that!” slip out when the person is in front of you.

2. Be Benefit-Focused: When you take the time to think it through, ask yourself, “Is this a commitment I really want to make? What are the benefits for me? What will I be giving up?” If you know in your heart that it isn’t the best exchange of your time and the answer should be “no”, then you owe it to yourself – and the other person — to gracefully decline.

3. Be #1 in Your Life: I often share that priorities need to follow the order of health (self), family, and work. Taking care of you is your most important responsibility. When you don’t, you cannot give the best of who you are to your loved ones, clients, or colleagues. While it may be challenging, you need to make the best decisions for you, and not get sidetracked by what others might think or say.

And if you find yourself in the situation of having already made a commitment that you wish you hadn’t, be strong enough to renegotiate.

See Upside. Be Upside. Lead Upside.

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