Episode 28 Image

Learning How To Say “No”

Julie shares four scenarios when saying no is a challenge and offers a few ways to say no in each scenario.



Saying no to something or someone is rarely as straightforward as leaders and business owners would like. Whether it’s something you want to say yes to but cannot, or if you’re saying no to someone who makes you feel guilty for saying no – it isn’t easy. In this episode, Julie shares four scenarios when saying no is a challenge and offers a few ways to say no in each scenario.

Be sure to download the 30 Ways to Say No guide which offers several options for when leaders and business owners need or want to say no, but struggle to do so. Get the guide here.


Hey there, this is Julie Bee, and you’re listening to They Don’t Teach THIS in Business School. 

As a leader and business owner, the art of saying No is a skill that is learned over time. Sometimes, saying no is straightforward and the obvious answer. However, there are times when saying no is really difficult, for a few reasons. 

There are four scenarios when I find it difficult to say no. I’ve created a download with 30 ways to say no in a few challenging scenarios, and I’ll put the link in the show notes where you can download it. Now, let me discuss four situations where saying no is a challenge, and give you an idea or two for saying no in those moments. 

The first scenario when saying no can be difficult is when you feel internal guilt for saying no, even though you need to say no to set some boundaries. When I find myself in that situation, I usually say something that reiterates my own position. For example, I might say, “No, I don’t have the capacity at this time,” or, “I’m working on saying no more, and this is one of those times I need to say no.” Both of those statements remind YOU why you’re saying no, you’re setting boundaries, and they also give the person you’re saying no to a reason. 

The second scenario when saying no is difficult is when you need to say no to someone who makes you feel bad about saying no. You may have said yes to this person in the past because it was just easier to say yes. But now that you have the handy 30 Ways to Say No download, you have some options. For people I struggle to say no to, I will often keep it very short with a,“No, thank you.” Keep it simple. If they press, I’ll go further and say, “No, and please don’t ask me again,” or, “No, I’m going to burn out if I take anything else on.” That usually gets the message across to those individuals. 

The third scenario, and this is one of the hardest ones for me personally, is when you want to say yes, but you cannot say yes for some external reason – time, budget, scheduling conflict –  something like that. When this comes up, I call these a no for now. I will usually say no with a, “It’s a no at this time, but please follow up with me in 6 months because I am interested,” or, “This is something I’d like to revisit, but I cannot make it a priority right now.”  It gives you and the person to whom you’re saying no permission to keep it open as an option, just not for right now.

The fourth and final scenario where it’s difficult to say no is when something feel off. Something in your gut is telling you to say no, but you can’t identify exactly what that something is. I am all about trusting your gut instincts, but it’s hard to say no when you can’t identify why you want to say no. In this scenario, I will sometimes say, “My gut instinct is to say no, and I’m going to stick with that instinct.” Another option is to say, “No, we are going in a different direction.” I recognize those are vague, but sometimes it is difficult to explain your gut instincts. AND when you know, you know. 

Be sure to download the 30 Ways to Say No document because it includes several options to say no in each of those scenarios. Find a couple ways that feel right to you, and keep them in your back pocket for those specific scenarios. The link to that document is in the show notes. 

At the end of the day, no is a perfectly acceptable answer. Sometimes you may want to explain why you say no; sometimes no is a complete sentence. As business owners, as leaders, saying no in a respectful but firm way is a skill we acquire over time. I’ve gotten much better at it because I’ve realized that saying No to something or someone usually means I’m saying yes to a better opportunity. 

No isn’t always easy to say, but it’s one of the best tools business owners have to protect themselves, their business, and those they lead. 

I’m Julie Bee, and They Don’t Teach THIS in Business School