4 Reasons To Master The Subtle Art Of Saying No More Often

The magical internal feeling of saying “Yes” to someone.

It makes you feel important. Special even. After all, you are the go-to person for everyone around you. The one who has the solution to all problems. You hear the words “Thank you” and “I couldn’t have done it without you” on a consistent basis. Words that further fill you up with a sense of value, worth and an affirmation that you matter.

You are shooting your own productivity in the foot.

By making “no” a rare part of your dictionary you are putting other people’s needs ahead of yours. This is generally admirable, you are a nice human being and more people should be like you. However, your performance will suffer (if is not suffering already). Learning how to say “no” to people and opportunities is one of the most efficient skills you can develop.

Here’s why:

Saying “No”

You should learn to say “no” more often. It might be uncomfortable at first, I completely understand that, but it is vital to your productivity. You have limited resources, time, and energy, so you cannot afford to waste them on anything less than “great”. There will always be “good” opportunities. There will always be people asking for your help, but if you say “yes” to all of them, you are might end up sacrificing your own goals and that is not something you should ever do.

You need to say “no” to a lot of GOOD things, in order to be able to say “yes” to a lot of GREAT things.

One of the best, and most productive, skills you can ever develop is the art of saying no. It will make you more successful and it will make the world a better place (counter-intuitive, I know, but you’ll see why that is true in a minute). Here are the 4 major reasons why you should start saying no more often.

saying no

 1. You vs Others

Your goals, by definition, are more important than the goals of any other person.

That is not selfish, mean, or anything bad. That is just a reality.

If you spend more time working on accomplishing your goals, instead of those of others, the world is going to be a better and more happy place. If you are successful, happy and motivated, you can pass some of that to other people. But, if you are grumpy, unhappy and completely dissatisfied with your life because you spend your valuable time being bounced from opportunity to opportunity, there is nothing you can provide to the world.

When you are in an airplane, the rule is, in case of an emergency, put your mask on before assisting others. If you pass out from the lack of oxygen while trying to put on someone else’s mask, you are not helping them, or yourself.

It is exactly the same with productivity and success. Help yourself first, once you have extra positive energy to spare, by all means, share it with everyone around you. But, if you don’t have enough even for yourself, trying to help someone else will do no good to either of you.

This is why saying no more often is such a vital skill. It allows you to concentrate on yourself and your goals, so you can get to where you need to be faster, so you are able to really help others and contribute to the world.

2. It Creates Better Habits (For Other People)

Have you ever had something like this happen to you? You haven’t been in your email for a few hours (like it should be), and when you open it you see two consecutive messages from the same person. #1 says “I need your help with X”. #2, sent a few hours after the first one, saying “no worries, I got it figured out”.

What happened?

Because you were not there to help that person, they figured out how to do it on their own.

This happens quite often. At the sight of a first challenge, people start looking for help. Sometimes, they actually need the help and cannot solve the problem on their own. But other times, they look for the easy way out instead of trying to make it on their own.

Self-reliance is one of the biggest keys to productivity.

Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom. And being one’s own person is the ultimate reward.
~ Patricia Sampson

Saying no to other people in an odd way teaches them the habit of self-reliance. They came to you for help, they didn’t get it and as a result, they figured things out on their own, more often than not. If you get used to asking for help as soon as you reach a challenge, you don’t experience the learning that comes from looking for the solution.

Self-reliance is key to success and saying no more often, helps everyone around you develop this productive habit.

3. Good vs. Great

There is a big difference between something that you CAN do versus something that you are truly GREAT at (or enjoy to a great extent).

The majority of your time should be spent in the “great” category. You should only say “yes” to something that you can excel at, or at least makes you really happy.

If you say “yes” to something that you can just do, you are not really helping the other person as well. They came to you for help, they came expecting greatness. If they just wanted it done, most likely, they could’ve done it themselves, but they came to you instead. If you cannot do an extremely good job at it at the very least, you should say no and get back to what you are truly great at.

saying no

Mastery of few, over mediocrity in many. That is the name of the productivity game. Saying no to good things, allows you to say yes to great things.

4. Avoid Bad Feelings

If you keep accepting every opportunity, or request for help, that comes your way, you might not have any resources left to help yourself.

If you spend the entire day bouncing from opportunity to opportunity, at the end of it, you are going to feel inadequate and exhausted. You helped so many people, you did all this work, but are you closer to achieving your goals? If the answer is “not so much”, that fosters negative feelings. Negative feelings that you can start associating with the people that you helped with.

You can also start chastising yourself on top of everything. “Why did I do this for X? Why didn’t I just say no?” Questions like these tend to pop into your head when you felt like you were not in control and you just kept accepting when you feel like you should’ve stood firm and said no. This is not good for your productivity, or your self-image.

All of these bad feelings can be avoided by saying no more often.

Your Turn Now

Helping people is a great feeling and you should do it more often.


It should be done on your terms, or you risk compromising your own success and productivity.

Saying no is not a bad or selfish action. It helps you concentrate on what it important to you so you can get your version of success much faster. Once you have what to share with the world, go ahead and share it, but work on your own success first.

Saying no will also help everyone around you to develop and solidify the incredibly important habit of self-reliance. It will also help you avoid the negative feeling of lack of progress, or the ever worse, one of feeling not in control of your own life.

Learn to say no more often, your productivity and success will thank you for it.

Question: what is an example of a situation when you said yes, when you know deep down you should’ve said no? Share in the comment section below: