On Saying No

On Saying No

“Focusing is about saying no” – Steve Jobs

After doing decently thorough research, I came to a conclusion on the theory of no. In the mind, a valley exist between yes and no that changes through generations. Younger individuals are less likely to say no while older generations use the word potentially too often. How does the quote come in above? By pointing this quote out, we can make direct correlations between lack and focus and the inability to say no. Causation does not mean correlation but the coincidence of younger generations lacking the ability to focus while also lacking the ability to say no is astounding. As the rabbit hole got deeper, my intuition says deeper issues lie dormant in the mind. For the sake of time, we are going to connect a few examples to business and management while avoiding the social ramifications on such issues. Let us start with pent up frustration on the part of the employee.

Employees Hold it In

As a manager you probably remember an individual quitting without much notice. Once the review comes back for why they left, examples were given such as overworked and underpaid. Being a manager, you rack your head for memories of having conversations about over work. Nothing! This occurs often. You may ask an employee to add a few tasks on to their list. A cheerful yes is the response. You are happy as a manager. Finally someone that is willing to get some work done! All of this was a lie. Now, travel to the employees side of the angle. Lacking the ability or fearing to say no, said employee feels used. They do not remember this being part of the original job description. With not raise in sight, they are just asking me to do more work without realizing my extra effort. The employees inability to say no coincides with the managers lack of knowledge for what the employee is going through. Both sides expect the other to understand their point of view. This is the first example of what gets people in trouble for not communicating. On to the next example!

Home Away From Home Troubles

Whether we like the people or not, we live with them for a third of our life. With most companies have a nine hour day including lunch, we will see the people more than our kids, wives, parents, and friends. Imagine trying to say no to forced friendship. NO can cause confrontation, gossip, and other issues that would make work a little more stressful. Now agreeing to go to lunch with Individual A, you begin to sweat because you are tired of listening to cat stories. For a manager, you now have to deal with the issues that come with having multiple children. Some get along while others don’t. Instead of hurting someone’s feelings from the get go lightly, situations rise up later when managers now have to step in and figure out what really happened.

One For The People That Need To Say Yes More

Say yes when an opportunity rises to either Give or Learn. Saying yes too often creates problems but saying No to often leads to zero growth. Even when something does not feel quite like a yes or a no, have a conversation to make the situation a yes if possible for yourself. That manager needs those tasks completed but you also want higher pay. Asking for a raise may be harder than saying no but not asking and or saying yes once a while tends to hurt much more in the long run.


Learn to say No quickly and Yes sometimes. Communicate thoughts instead of being a “Yes” person. Understanding that saying no will not get you in trouble. If it is, analyze whether your no was too hasty or their request was too great. Like everything there is a fine balance. Often a hard target to hit, we must learn to strike that balance in order to grow but also protect our sanity. Most importantly, stay focused.

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