Learn to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

Q: I’m a people pleaser—I have trouble saying no. How can I change?

A: Learning to say no is the single most effective way to increase your focus and productivity. Saying no will help you reduce what I call low leverage activities (those that consume resources and drive results slowly) and invest more time and energy into high leverage activities, which are the key to achieving the right results faster. We must learn to say no to the things that don’t matter so we can say yes to the things we care about.

There are a lot of ways to say no and make people feel as if you still care. Sometimes it really means saying not now.

I teach clients that instead of something being a complete no, it can be no and instead. For example, if someone asks me to lunch to talk about something and I am unsure whether it is a high leverage activity, I will ask the person more questions. If I learn the information can be covered over email, I’ll suggest that. I am still staying no to his initial request, but I answered his question and freed up a few hours for myself to invest in other things.

Related: Defend Your Boundaries to Take Back Control


This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.


Tony Jeary is an author, executive coach and presentation strategist. Jeary has published more than three dozen books about making presentations and strategic effectiveness. He coaches the world's top executives from companies such as Wal-Mart, Ford, New York Life and Texaco.

Leave a Comment