Learning How to Say No
Do you ever find yourself feeling really busy but yet unfulfilled in what you are doing? Then you likely need to be saying “no” more often. But when saying no seems almost like a negative – “I’d be missing out” or “It would be letting someone down” – it can be hard to do. In this episode we share why saying “no” can actually be an opportunity, the best self care and even a gift! And we share 10 ways to say “no” and still be kind.
Saying “No” is a Gift
The word “No” can feel like such a negative. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by turning something down. But we find that when we say yes to every single thing that is asked of us, we can run ourselves too thin. We can face burnout or become resentful. By saying no to something, it allows you to say yes to things that matter and are important to you. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t mean you’re spiteful or mean. It just means you have your priorities in place, you know your limits, and you can handle the workload in front of you.
Setting Appropriate Boundaries for your Business
It’s difficult to say no when it comes to business. You want to seize every opportunity and make every connection possible. But saying no is about balance. Determine your schedule, your pricing, your time commitments – EVERYTHING before you start taking on more work or saying yes to other things. Maybe people are asking for favors or additional help, first check in with yourself and your business. Really ask yourself if you have the time and energy to fully give yourself over to that request. If not, then it’s absolutely okay to say, “No, thanks.”
10 Ways to Say “No” and Still Be Kind
- With a compliment: “This sounds like a great opportunity but I have to pass.”
- Share your reason: “Thank you but I actually won’t have time for this.”
- Be brief but not rude: “Thanks, but I can’t.”
- Leave room for a “Yes” in the future: “I would love to but at this time I cannot. Please keep my name in mind for the future.”
- No, but: “I may not be able to help you, but let me refer you to my friend.”
- Ask later: “I’m not taking on new projects until June, can you please reach out to me then?”
- You’re booked: “Thanks for thinking of me but my schedule is full.”
- Not compatible: “Thank you so much but I actually don’t think we’d be a great fit.”
- Giving thanks: “Thank you, I’m so grateful you thought of me but I cannot help you at this time.”
- Just No: “Thanks but I’m good.”
Helpful Links Mentioned in this Episode
Follow the Creative Legacy Podcast on Social Media
- Instagram: instagram.com/thecreativelegacypodcast
- Facebook: facebook.com/thecreativelegacypodcast
- Join our Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/thecreativelegacypodcast
Find Sarah Online
- Website: sarahschraderdesign.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/sarahschraderdesign
- Facebook: facebook.com/sarahschraderdesign
Find Shaunae Online:
- Website: shaunae.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/shaunaeteske
- Facebook: facebook.com/shaunaeteskephotography
Shaune Teske 0:00
We say yes. And then don’t put our whole hearts into it has that game to meet expectations or exceed expectations? I mean we do want to be able to do with that in mind. So if we’re not going to feel fully invested or fully in love with it, it’s time to say no.
Sarah Schrader 0:23
You’re listening to The Creative Legacy Podcast, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs to build their business, while leading a life of intention, joy and adventure. I’m Sarah, a brand strategist and designer, helping entrepreneurs craft their brands to speak boldly and reach their ideal client. I’m joined by my friend and co host, Shaune, a wedding photographer and educator that helps photographers, creatives and small business owners cultivate intentional lives and build their most abundant business. If you’re the type of person who is always saying like, I’m really busy, I don’t have time for that. But you’re not feeling fulfilled. You’re not feeling joy in what you’re doing. I’ve been there as well. And what you probably need to do is say no a little bit more.
Shaune Teske 1:09
Sarah Schrader 1:14
Yeah, really, saying no to things can really be a gift? Because it allows you to say yes to what’s important. I think that is something we don’t think about, we get a little bit of the, well, if I say no, I’m gonna feel like a bad person. Or I’m letting somebody down. And it’s not the case at all.
Shaune Teske 1:38
I think no, feels like such a negative. Yeah, right. So that’s why we don’t want to say, especially as women, I feel like we don’t ever want to let people down. We have this like, caring, nurturing sense and we want everyone to feel good and feel uplifted. But no really is saying yes to what’s important. And when you’re saying no to one thing, you’re allowing yourself to say yes, to all the good things are the things that serve you. And we want to talk today about the fact that no is actually a really good word. And we are going to encourage you by the end of this to be saying no, a lot more often. So I want to hear Sarah, like you talked about you’ve had struggles with that. Can you tell me a little bit about why it’s hard for you to say no?
Sarah Schrader 2:30
Yeah, there’s a few different facets of it, I guess. I mean, one is with my mom, she’s the hardest person for me to say no to. I mean, just because she’s given me so much and everything. So to say no to her is very difficult, but I have realized that if I just keep saying yes to like, I’m just gonna be doing it forever and more. And it takes time away from what I need to be focusing on. And you know, I’ve had to like really confront her and be like, Hey, I’m sorry, but I need to be doing this. Can you do it on your own? Is there somebody else who can help you like? Yeah, it was probably the hardest one that I’ve had to say no to?
Shaune Teske 3:15
I think that’s for a lot of people. There’s that one person, whether it’s a parent or a significant other or a child that is really hard to say no to because whether they’ve sacrificed for you or the things they’ve done in the past, and you want to continue giving love and saying yes to even if that yes doesn’t help you. I feel like everyone has a situation of someone that’s hard to say no to so you’re not alone.
Sarah Schrader 3:39
I don’t know like whether you were living at home with your parents when you first start your business or now with Matt, like if you’re working and they come in, and like interrupt you. Like that’s probably one of the hardest things too. And I’m like, no, you can’t come in.
Shaune Teske 3:51
Yes, Matt knows that. We’re in the same room and if I’m in the zone, I’ll be like, you have to work downstairs I’m sorry. And I really love that we’re talking about this day because I feel like over the years I’m become very good at saying no, it is one of my favorite forms of self care. And I want to say I celebrate say no and not feel like it’s being rude or mean. Because really saying no saying yes to like I said things that matter to us and things that we want to be filling our lives more with. So I want to be able to share that saying no is a beautiful thing. And we need to start talking about it more like that, that say no taste nothing away from a person you’re saying no to is nothing to do with the thing they’re asking for. But it’s recognizing what you have in yourself to give and if you don’t have that you can give someone your fullest. The know is totally fine.
Sarah Schrader 4:44
Yeah, I can say the other aspects of it, like church, another one that I’ve said have said yes to a lot. I’ve luckily backed off that. But that’s what saying yes to those types of things is what led me into the burnout that I had.
Shaune Teske 5:01
I think everyone has that story of you said yes, you over committed and I definitely have. And I think a big part, not only you know when we’re saying no to our loved ones, but when it’s hard to say no for your business. And it’s hard when you have all these opportunities coming at you to turn those down. I think a big thing comes from mindset that we think if we say no, that then the opportunity won’t be there in the future, or these people are gonna forget about you or whatever, so that you’d put more on your plate you take more on because you don’t want to turn anyone down. You want to be friends with everyone, you want to say yes to the opportunities yes to the cash coming in. And you really can’t then serve people the best of your ability, where somebody else is gonna suffer, maybe your home life or you’re not going to see your family. And that’s what I was doing when I was saying yes to everything in my business, every opportunity, every photoshoot every wedding. I was saying no to family, I was saying no to the people that I loved. Because I was at work all the time I was doing this and I was doing work well. But I was stressed out, I was burned out. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating well, I had no time to do anything but work. And so by saying yes to work, I say no to my family. And I don’t want to do that.
Sarah Schrader 6:23
Right. There’s kind of this picture of, you know, like a waitress holding a bunch of plates in a restaurant, like think of each of those places like family health, finance, work, all those things. If you start putting too much on any or each of those, something’s gonna fall and break.
Shaune Teske 6:39
Right. Saying no, is really about balance. Yeah, it’s not about you’re saying no to everything. And you just have to go live in a hole or something. It’s not about being negative. It’s not about not liking people, but it’s about what can you do? What where’s the balance in your soul and your business and your home life that allows you to really pour into something the things that you are saying yes to?
Sarah Schrader 7:09
Yeah. I mean, in terms of business talking about that, first, when you’re first starting out, there’s kind of this pressure to like, just take anything and everything just because of the income coming in. And I think to an extent, that’s great, because you can try a few different things. But once you really start to find your niche, and what you really like to do, that’s a great opportunity to really realize, you can start saying no to things, right. And honestly, as you’re growing in your craft to like, that’s time like you can increase your prices, and you can say no to this others and still keep that income coming in with those projects that you really do feel passionate about.
Shaune Teske 7:44
Right. So I think that was a great point of when you’re starting, you can say yes to a bunch of things, even if you don’t know how you feel about it. So you can learn what you like and what you don’t like, or, oh, actually, this took way more time than I thought it did. And I’m feeling burnt out next time. I’m gonna say no, or I’m going to say, can we restructure this in a different way? So I totally get it like at the beginning, you do want to take on all those opportunities and seize those moments. But as you go further, it’s okay to start things you said yes to in the past, you can say no to now.
Sarah Schrader 8:17
Yeah, definitely don’t need to hold on to every little thing.
Shaune Teske 8:20
No you are gonna say feeling burnt out and it’s gonna, it’s gonna start affecting everything. It’s gonna flood into your business into your daily life. Because you’ve said yes to things that don’t serve you things that don’t matter. Just to keep up with this. Like, I don’t want to come off as rude. Yeah, I think that’s the second part is that we want to say yes, because we want the opportunity. And then we also want to say yes, because we want people like us. And we want people to think we are a team player. And we will go the extra mile. And I’m not saying don’t do that you have to serve people and love people. But there is that point of you physically cannot anymore, you’re gonna get sick, you’re gonna get burnt out. And making sure you’re saying yes to the right people. And you can say no nice way. Oh, this is we’re not saying no. And then that’s it and block them on all the other channels. It’s about saying no, in the right way. But it’s okay to do that.
Sarah Schrader 9:18
Yeah. Do you want to just jump ahead and really quickly give a couple of examples of the ways to be kind and saying no.
Shaune Teske 9:26
Yes! I am a huge advocate for saying no, I think everyone should say no, in their daily life. Some of my favorite ways there. You don’t have to just say no, like I said, there are so many ways. You can say no, we’re going to include this in the show notes of like 10 great ways to say no, but one of my favorites has to do with a compliment. I think every time you are turning something down or you’re saying not right now, a compliment is a great way to go. Hey, this sounds like a great opportunity. Wow. I love that you put your time and effort in To this or this project is sounds amazing, this is amazing, whatever. But right now I have to pass. But right now I can’t take this onto my schedule, started with a comment is a beautiful way to say this is great, and you’re validating them, but not right now. I don’t have the time or whatever. And we can get into more of that.
Sarah Schrader 10:21
Yeah, I think one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in terms of saying no, just in terms of mindset of it, is if you’re saying yes to something, just because it sounds exciting, it came along. What are you potentially missing out on because you can’t take out another thing?
Shaune Teske 10:39
Yes, that is a big thing with wedding photographers with, you know, booking dates, because we only have so many, you know, people don’t usually get married on weekdays. So we only have so many weekends in the year. And you don’t want to shoot all year because you’re going to get burned out. And not everyone, if you’re in certain seasons, where there’s winter, fall, whatever, that people aren’t getting married as much, you’re not gonna have that. So you have this small amount of days. And if you say yes to a client that does not feel like your ideal client is not going to pay you what you want to be paid or what you what you think you’re worth, whatever that may be. Are you If you say yes to that, when that dream wedding comes along, and you’re already booked, you can’t back out of it when you that’s when you say yes, then the good thing, the right thing to do is to follow through. So if you are feeling burnt out, if you are feeling tired, you do have to see it through I believe until that project is over or your contract has been completed, whatever that may be. But yeah, you’re gonna miss out on those those dream things. If you’re saying yes to things that don’t really matter to you, or you don’t feel really good about.
Sarah Schrader 11:48
Yeah, so that’s key points. Do you feel really good about it? Is it in line with what you want to be doing who you want to work with?
Shaune Teske 11:56
And you can always want to say back out of it, you You shouldn’t when there’s contracts, or there’s projects when there’s things that are going you know, forward that you have to do. But if it is something that like, okay, let’s say it’s dinner plans with your friend, and you said yes to it, you felt really good about it in the moment. And now it’s getting closer and you’re feeling sick or you’re something’s going on. It’s okay to say no, I would say try to say no, as soon as you start feeling like that, you never want to get into a point where it’s the day of or whatever. Now these people aren’t prepared, or you like really messing everything up because you you just show up nothing like that. But it is like a I really right now need to take I need to say no to this right now. I need to I said yes. But I have to go to know whether it’s during circumstances or you’re not feeling good. Whatever that is, it’s okay to do I just hesitate with that one just to make sure that you’re not putting anyone in a position where now they’re out of money or they’re out of time, you know, things like that, try to make sure as soon as you start feeling bad about it, or you don’t feel nice about you just don’t feel right about it doesn’t feel like this is the time of the season for it, then go back and say no, go back and say now right now, or can we revisit this? And we’ve talked about that, even with the podcast, where I felt like I couldn’t I was so busy that when I if I recorded certain episodes a certain time. I couldn’t give it my all so I’d say not right now. Can we revisit this? And that’s what we’re doing. See? Look? I think say no. It’s just another way in anything we do business in life, where we are sharing our expectations, or we are setting our expectations. So people aren’t let down. We say yes. And then don’t put our whole hearts into it. That’s not going to meet expectations or exceed expectations. Everything we do we want to be able to do with that in mind. So if we’re not going to feel fully invested or fully in love with it, it’s time to say no.
Sarah Schrader 13:59
Do you have an example of something where you’ve said no to something and then something better came along?
Shaune Teske 14:03
Yeah, I mean with work all the time, I’ve had that with weddings where you know I’m at a certain price point with my business that I’m not going to take on weddings that are lower than that especially with you know, only having so many Saturdays to shoot and I want to spend time with my family now. I think I’m way less weddings that I used to because I want to have time to be with my family and to be with my husband to travel. I’ve had that and I had sometimes someone else’s no, I think that’s the beautiful part about this as someone else’s no has turned into a great yes for me. So one of the biggest examples of that was I was trying to book a wedding for a certain day. Last year, you know, so last year we’re trying to get weddings booked the year before and these clients are saying no to me, they found other people great. I want everything to be a great fit, but I was like this is a really popular day. Why is it not getting booked, it turned out that then we got engaged. And then we had a free weekend, we could go get married on that day. So that’s the other thing when you’re saying no, you’re no. Could be a great yes for someone else. Everything I think is meant to be. So if you’re no is a no, because you want to say yes to your family, your friends, your other work projects, then that allows someone else to say yes, or that other great connection and come in, feel free to guide where they’re going. Yes, that’s another no that we have to add here is you should always if it’s a work thing, if you don’t want to work with someone, you should always say no, but I have someone in mind for you. I think I have it called No, I do I literally have it called no, but because it you want to continue helping and being a person that serves. So this is a great chance for you to connect a friend that does this thing that maybe you don’t do as well or is available for that day or whatever. No, but allows you to say no, I’m not available. But I have a friend that you’d be a great fit for.
Sarah Schrader 16:06
Even on the personal side, like yeah, a friend wants to say, hey, do you want to go out to dinner like you just not at a place you can do that. Maybe it’s hey, I would love to spend some time with you. But I can’t right now, how would coffee and like a week sound?
Shaune Teske 16:20
Right. That’s a great one of it’s no, not right now. So you don’t even have to say no, forever. It’s just not right now. And then follow that up with. Okay, here are some days that work for my schedule, or here these are the days that work for me or when I’m free or whatever it is and start working on that. So just because they say no now doesn’t mean there’s gonna be no in the future.
Sarah Schrader 16:45
Not even just the timing, though, like what it is to.
Shaune Teske 16:48
Sarah Schrader 16:49
So if they’re asking you to do a project with them, and they just, it’s not your style, maybe you can suggest something else to still have that kind of bonding time without it being that that one thing they want to do.
Shaune Teske 17:03
Right. Or yeah, you can switch up the activity and switch up the location unit, switch up the project you’re actually working on, and then keep it going that way. So it’s this, I don’t do this thing, or I don’t do this anymore, or I don’t feel like it. But I still want to see you because you’re so valuable to me. You don’t have to settle for things just because you will see a person.
Sarah Schrader 17:25
Exactly, I can share one of my own experiences too.
Shaune Teske 17:29
Sarah Schrader 17:30
So I have been, I mean, I had been for a long time being part time along with my design work. And some of that was contract work as well. And I had been in the last year and a half offered once with the contract work and once with the part time workers at church to take on more hours, almost full time. And like you know, like, it’s great for more money, but that wasn’t what I wanted to focus on. And in saying that it also allowed me the opportunity to go and travel for four months.
Shaune Teske 18:03
Yeah, there’s so many instances like that where someone else’s no or you’re no allowed open that door for you to have these new opportunities or for new people to come in and new experiences. So this why no is really a great work. It’s a great thing.
Sarah Schrader 18:20
I will say to you, the company that asked me to go full time for contract work. I said no to them, they have an awesome designer now doing their work, but I’m also contracting with them again.
Shaune Teske 18:31
And so if someone really does want you and you said no. It’s kind of like that, like you’re trying to date someone you’re like, no, they’re like, oh, wait, like that to have like work if they really want you really value you. And it’s just a scheduling thing right now. They will wait that’s why we get on waitlist all the time for tickets or different workshops or things like that, because we want it so bad.
Sarah Schrader 18:54
It just reminded me of when we read Building a Story of talking about the client of like you’re trying to get the sale and they say no right now, or do you want to marry me now? Okay, let’s date.
Shaune Teske 19:06
Yes, right. Exactly. So there’s a no, hey, no, I’m not gonna marry you. But we’re gonna date in business.
Sarah Schrader 19:15
All right, so you I mean, you have a list of 10 ways to say no and still be kind. We’ve mentioned a couple.
Shaune Teske 19:22
I’ll just go through them quickly or we can talk about them and then again, this is all written down. So we talked about doing it with a compliment another one it says share your reason. Thank you but I don’t have time for this, thank you but this doesn’t work with my brand, whatever you and share your reason. Don’t have to. That’s the next one. You can be brief but not rude. Thanks, but I can’t or thanks no thanks or thanks.
Sarah Schrader 19:47
I’m gonna jump in really quick because you’re writing something you don’t have to justify.
Shaune Teske 19:50
You don’t. No is a complete sentence that is one of my favorite quotes. No period is a complete sentence because, again as women We feel like we have to justify ourselves all the time with our actions. And if it doesn’t serve you or your family, or you just don’t want to do it, you can say no. And that’s it. Leave room for yes, in the future, like we talked about, I would love to this time, but I can’t please keep my name in mind for the future. I do that a lot on projects or collaborations that I would love to do. But it just doesn’t fit in with my schedule right now. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it. But if I take it on right now, I’m going to blow up like there’s so much stuff. So leave room for a yes in the future, and then follow up. You are the one that’s a no. So I think then the next step then is if you do want to work with this person, or do this type of thing, it’s totally fine for you to follow up and say, Hey, you reached out a few months ago about this, just you know, my my calendars open up want to see it and that they can say no. And you can say great. Or they could say yes. And turns into this great project or collaboration. No, but we talked about that. No, but I have a friend that would be great for this. No, but we should do this thing instead. No, but it’s the great, it’s the best. You can ask later, again, I’m not taking on new projects, can you reach out. So that’s the other thing if you are really busy, and you can’t be trusted to reach back out, but you do want you would love them to reach back out to you, you can ask for them to ask you back later. Again, you run the risk of them being tired and not wanting to deal with that later. But it never hurts to if they really want you they will reach back out. You can just say you’re booked or you’re you’re busy or whatever, thanks for thinking of me, but my schedule is full. Or I’m not taking on any clients or I’m not taking on any new projects, you can talk about not being compatible, I think this is totally fine to say thank you so much, I don’t actually think it would be a great fit. This is just being honest with my brand doesn’t fit with your project or whatever it may be. Again, that’s where I think you should then add in the but I have a friend to refer you to you don’t have to though, you can just say, you know looking at this, I don’t think we’re going to be a good fit. Let’s save all of the time and the hassle and the trouble of getting into it. And then we realize we’re not going to fit. Let’s just end it now. And open up the doors for something else. Giving thanks and having gratitude is another great one. Thank you. I’m so grateful you thought of me. But I can’t help you at this time. And then just no thanks. But I’m good. Let’s just simple and clean and again being grateful. But just say no. And I think everyone should practice this. You know, I think this is a really funny exercise and you’re going to feel really weird about it. I think you should literally say no, a bunch of times or make little notes throughout your day. Would you like fries with that? No, I wouldn’t like don’t say yes to things. Even if you’re like why don’t want her to feel bad or you don’t want them you know, whatever. But you don’t really want the things say no. Small let you I mean, can’t say no to like, do you want to go to work today? No. Well, you should still go to work. Do you want to clean do those dishes? No, but you should sell so it’s not I can’t say no to everything. But saying no to things that don’t serve you.
Sarah Schrader 23:20
Yes. Sorry. I feel weird saying yes.
Shaune Teske 23:27
Yeah, because no really is not. No, it is yes to things that matter.
This episode may be over but we want to keep the conversation going. Find us hanging out over on our Instagram account @thecreativelegacypodcast and interact with us there to let us know your perspective and questions on today’s topic. As always, we really appreciate your thoughts and feedback. You can reach out to us on Instagram @thecreativelegacypodcast or leave a review on Apple podcasts and we might include yours in an upcoming episode.
Sarah Schrader 24:10
All the show notes and links to resources from this episode can be found at thecreative legacypodcast.com/episodes.