Why saying NO leads to the better YES

I have to admit I'm a recovering people pleaser. Yep I said it and that's just what it was. I would say yes to almost every invitation, project, customer and group, and you know what. I'd turn up, I'd deliver, build relationships and go home wondering why why why I agreed to it. I was exhausted and didn't see the personal fulfilling results I expected.

For me it was fear of missing out, wanting to be liked and proving I could do it. Three of the worst reasons to say yes to anything when it’s not driven from a place of core values. 

One of the best pieces of advice I was given was that...

Giving others the expectation of YES gives them the power over your NO

I didn’t understand it at first until I started to practice this foreign concept of saying NO people were initially upset "you were always my go to guy" they said "but why Jermaine", "Will you at least think about it" and you name it.

I recognise in this hyper active 'busy' world we're in if we're not constantly taking on new things it can feel like we're not working. Well that's just a bunch of crap and a dangerous lie that is keeping millions of people from living out their greatness.

This can be challenging in a corporate environment where doing more is seen as an achievement. 

Why do we sometimes struggle to YES?

We’ll tell ourselves many stories about why we say yes because we have an in built system to justify our sometimes very emotional decisions. We say yes for two reasons

  • To protect our relationships
  • To protect the perception of who we are to others

The irony is when we say yes too often we can actually hurt our relationships, reputation and success. Our performance can be impacted and we end up letting ourselves and others down and resenting the decision or worse the person.

How do you know you’re saying YES too often?

  • You find it difficult to say NO
  • You avoid being direct and honest
  • You feel bad when you don’t say YES
  • You’re resentful of others after you’ve said YES

None of these things are enabling and helpful for you or the relationship you have the other the person. You first have to give yourself permission to exercise your right to say NO.

That goes for customers too! Yep I said it customers too.

What do you do about it?

About four years ago I heard a statement from a coach named Susan Gregg in a forum that shifted my thinking. After listening back to the conversation I wrote out what she said.

No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that. We don’t have to explain ourselves, we can just say “NO”. The hardest was with my customers. Early on my journey I found developing the ability to say no expanded my ability to say yest and really mean it. My early attempts at saying no to my customers were often far from graceful and truly difficult but with practice even my no came from a place of love. Love yourself enough to be able to say YES or NO
— Susan Gregg


Her shift to saying NO wasn’t just about giving herself permission but greater intent to do what actually matters. She now had a criteria for Yes which was love that led to thinking more clearly about what that meant for her, her business and how she best served her customers.

She had what I now refer to as YES criteria. Overtime my NO's have become easier to give. I wasn't rude and many of the requests I did give some thought. When it didn't line up I had a clear and specific answer why. I started to notice the better opportunities available to me. This only happened because I had clear YES criteria.

Yes Criteria is your decision criteria to requests, actions and decisions aligned and driven from your core values and personal goals.

The question is, what is your YES criteria? This will shape almost every activity you do in your life, work and relationships.

If you don't have one now’s the time to get that done.

Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself today to help you determine your YES criteria.

  • Does this help me achieve a specific goal?
  • Does this help the business or my team achieve a specific goal?
  • Is this in line with my core values? (what are they if I haven't identified them - check out this video from Brian Tracy)
  • Does this help or benefit my customer/audience/family/community?
  • Will I be proud of the result of this decision at the end?

What next?

I believe in the full holistic view of sales development. Knowing your YES criteria is one of them as it determines the extent to which you can contribute at your best for your customers.

You may also find this key statement of questions from Michael Hyatt of value also

Reasons why he says no

  • Other peoples’ priorities will take precedence over ours.
  • Mere acquaintances—people we barely know!—will crowd out time with family and close friends.
  • We will not have the time we need for rest and recovery.
  • We will end up frustrated and stressed.
  • We won’t be able to say yes to the really important things.

If you're a key account manager, sales leader, consultant or executive wanting to get more from your customer relationships. Get connected to my customer growth email list. You can start the process of learning a new framework of thinking to growth. www.jermaineedwards.com  

Jermaine Edwards

Your Customer Growth Guide