Biz Strategies: Learning to say, ‘no’

The #MeToo movement has initiated global awareness that will hopefully reshape our landscape and create real opportunity for women to rise.

It has come with a mixed bag of deplorable, criminal behaviour and perhaps milder, but still unacceptable conduct that has left society with a cloudy view of what is appropriate. So many were afraid to set boundaries and subsequently, to speak out, but that’s nothing new.

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However, it will hopefully be the catalyst to change the broad spectrum of society’s discrepancies towards women. It’s easy to get angry at the injustice and we certainly should, but perhaps there is also an opportunity to focus on our part in creating that disparity.

In reality, women set any number of self-imposed barriers that keep them from expanding their potential for success and abundance. One of the biggest barriers might be the inability to say no. Before the last two statements set off an explosion of outrage, this is not meant to compare the appalling and unacceptable behaviours that have resulted in sexualization and victimization.

Rather, it puts a spotlight on the fact that maybe one of the biggest movements to happen in recent times will enable women to confidently say no without fear. After all, saying no puts the power back in your hands and helps to set clear boundaries.

Susan Newman, author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say it — and Mean It states, “Most of us overestimate how much a refusal will disappoint someone. In reality, most people won’t dwell on your denial — they’ll just move on.”

Unfortunately, “yes people” often take on too much, can’t deliver, feel guilty about it afterwards and turn into complainers about being too busy. But in reality, Danielle LaPorte correctly philosophizes that “whatever is on your plate got there because you said yes to it.”

Think about the following if you are one to over-promise.

Be clear what is being asked of you. Will it take more time than stated?

Do you want to do this? If saying no will leave you disappointed, then you may want to organize other commitments to accommodate this opportunity.

Ask for time to think it over but get back to them quickly.

Don’t try to do everything. Better to shine at a few things than be mediocre at many.

Be courteous but firm when saying no.

Don’t let yourself be taken for granted.

If asked to take on extra work, remind your boss of your priorities and help in reassessing.

If you absolutely have to say yes, tell the person that you will agree this time, but ask how it can be planned better next time.

After turning down requests, you will find that others move on, you have time for what you want to do and you will stop feeling guilty.  
If you want to explore some of the other common barriers women create and how to break through them, the Jan. 24 Whistler Open Forum will tackle that topic. Early bird tickets are available until Jan. 10 at
On a bigger scale, maybe the #MeToo movement has set the stage for women to identify and transcend their upper limits. But social movements achieve power and become full-blown revolutions by staying in the public eye and continually being part of the dialogue. It’s up to everyone to make that happen.

At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching, workshops and is the founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network. She has proudly written this column for The Whistler Question since 2004.

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