The Power of No: Setting Boundaries for Your Professional Sanity

Published Thursday, March 25, 2010 8:30 AM

In the movie, Yes Man, a personal development guru tells down-and-out Carl Allen (played by Jim Carrey): "You say no to life and, therefore, you are not living." Taking this statement to heart, Allen agrees to say Yes to all the people and opportunities that come his way .... and soon learns how precarious and depleting Yes can be.

This fictional account reflects what a lot of us experience in real life and what an article from confirms: It's easier to say yes, but saying no may be a healthier option. You add a lot of unnecessary and unhealthy stress to your life when you honor too many requests for your time and talents.

For the sake of your professional sanity, and overall wellbeing, you need to learn how to say No to your boss, to your co-workers and to your clients or customers - at least some of the time. (As a father of 7, I practice the art of No frequently). 

To get the learning process going, this article outlines 6 Ways to Say 'No' and Mean It. There is, among others:

  • The direct No (No, no thank you)
  • The reasoned No (I can't meet with you now because I have a report that needs to be finished by tomorrow)
  • The rain check No (I can't have lunch with you today, but I could make it sometime next week)

As explained in this post on 10 Ways to Say No to Your Boss, an honest and straightforward explanation is best.

If you still need more insight into the power of No, you can find it, along with some practical guidance, in this Psychology Today look at setting boundaries at work .

by Bradley Eggers

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