CommunicationLeadership: Say it like a leaderResiliency & attitude

Don’t say no, give options

By September 27, 2019October 2nd, 2019No Comments
PHOTO CREDIT: Stock Unlimited
PHOTO CREDIT: Stock Unlimited

I bet you know someone who is quick to say “no”? A bit of a buzzkill, isn’t it? Sometimes, it’s easy to say no and tougher to find a way to say “yes”.

Years ago, I advised my employees, “You’re not allowed to say ‘no'”. When I first introduced them to this concept, the perplexed look on their faces said it all. They weren’t quite sure how to respond or what to do. They weren’t even sure why I would ask such a thing. You may be wondering the same thing now.

TIP TO SERVE: Don’t say no – give options.

It all stems from a sense of service. I bet you don’t want to hear “no” when you ask someone to do something, right? You want to hear “yes”, in some shape, size, or form. It’s amazing that this small word “no” has such a big meaning. It sounds final, black and white, discussion over, the decision is made. Not exactly what you were hoping for when you asked the question of someone, is it? Of course, you’d prefer to hear “yes”.

The old saying about customer service, “the customer is always right” stems from that concept of saying “yes”, validating the client and giving him or her what they are asking, want, and need. Those “clients” can be your colleagues asking you for some information, or your boss asking for another task, or your employees requesting a favor. There’s definitely a place in your life for “no” – and that place is not found in customer service. It’s about saying “yes”.

CHALLENGE: Imagine if you changed your thinking to stop saying “no” to challenges.


Think about the opportunities you would embrace, the risks you might take, and the successes you could enjoy. Of course, you might fail every now and then, and if and when you did, you’d know that you had given it your everything. You said “yes” to the challenge.

You might remember a 2008 Jim Carey movie called, “Yes Man”. It was a funny story about this fellow who couldn’t say “no” to anything. As you may likely guess, he got himself into some situations and the hilarity ensued. The interesting thing that happened was that Jim Carey’s character found himself in many exciting and unexpected adventures that he would have otherwise missed. He figured out a way to say “yes”.

There’s a place for “no” in your life, for sure. However, when you replace “no” with other responses, you open up a world of possibilities you might be overlooking, not just for your clients, also for yourself. Saying “yes” doesn’t mean observing every term and condition that was presented to you. It’s about saying “yes” in a way that works for you.

In the short-term, when someone asks you something, it may be awfully tempting to answer with a quick “no”. Before you do, ask yourself if this response is going to serve you and your needs in the long run. If not, figure out a way to say “yes” to what comes in your direction. It might be an opportunity in disguise. If nothing else, it will be a chance for you to create some options and change how you think. That change just might be what makes the difference in your relationships.

Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Helping biz people find solutions to workplace communication challenges.
Better communication, better business, better life.

© 2019 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

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Communication consultant, author, professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, improve morale, confidence, and productivity by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at and sign up for her FREE weekly “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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