Reclaim Power with a Good "No"

Question: "Can you help me with X?" Reply: "No, that won't work for me."

It's such a simple, straight forward reply, yet most people experience extreme anxiety even when it's really the best response. To the logical mind, such a statement is a no-brainer. But the emotional mind, the one that often calls the shots, seems to say that it's better to sublimate your personal interests than to risk disappointing someone else.

Just a few days ago, a colleague told me that he had decided to stop engaging with a professional mastermind group that he'd been participating with for about 5 months. When he informed the group leader of his plans to discontinue, the leader asked him to attend one last time so he could tell people that he was leaving and why. My friend was fairly certain he didn't want to go but he found himself in a familiar perpetual mind loop of uncertainty. You know the one, the one that says such things as:

  • It's not polite to just walk away
  • What will they/he think of me if I quit without saying goodbye?
  • I really don't want to go, but I probably should.
  • What's another 4 hours of my life, anyway?
  • Etc.

Knowing that we often know exactly what is right for us, I asked if I could ask him one question. With his permission I asked, "Do you want to go to the meeting tomorrow?" His response: "No." He might have actually said yes but he said no. There was no "thought" between my question and his response; it was resoundingly clear. Upon hearing his reply, his mind-chatter went silent.

Gone was the angst, back was his power. He could now freely spend the 4 hours working on a business development project he was enthusiastic about starting. With clarity, he realized that if he wanted he could reach out to participants in the group individually and continue the relationships with those with whom he had developed a good connection.

 When was the last time you reclaimed your power - and time and energy - with a good "no?" What did it do to your energy? On those occasions when you've not been as clear, what was the nature of your prevailing mind-chatter?