The Blog

Are You Afraid to Flex Your "NO" Muscle?

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

When I talk about saying NO, I always encounter objections like these from my readers:

  • "If I say no, I might miss out on good opportunities."
  • "If I say no, people will believe I'm a difficult person to work with."

I bet these objections have crossed your mind, too. How do I know? Because that is what I used to say before I learned how to stand in my power and respectfully say no. The old me would say things like:

  • "It's easy for you to say no, but I'm not in a situation to do that!"
  • "I can't just say no! What is my boss going to think?"
  • "There is just no way I could get away with that."

In my experience as a coach, I've learned that most objections come from fear.

The fear of revealing the real you.

Saying NO is about honoring yourself and your desires.

It's about liberating the real you from the "should-do" and focusing on the "love-to-do." NO protects the part of yourself that you hide under the layers of people pleasing. NO shields you from having to contort yourself in order to fit in and not rock the boat.

In an interview by Erin Greenawald, Victoria MacRae-Samuels, VP of Operations for Maker's Mark said:

In other words, when you become a "yes-person" for the sake of the job, you lose an important part of yourself. If you've not used your NO-muscle in a while (or ever!), saying NO will feel uncomfortable and scary. That's normal. Start slowly and take small steps.

Here are 3 practices that will strengthen your confidence and make saying NO a little easier:

  1. Communicate what you want-- Do you communicate with your inner voice or do you say what you think people want to hear? Stop assuming people understand you. Most of the time, they don't. It's not the world's responsibility to know what you really want; it's your responsibility to share your voice and desires with the world.

  • Set boundaries and stick to them-- Saying NO is about establishing boundaries. When you establish a clear sense of what is right or wrong for you, it becomes easier to honor yourself. Boundaries help you define what's most important in your life, and they act as your guiding principles.
  • Trust your gut-- If something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust your inner wisdom. Use your instincts to guide you when you need to say No. Before you automatically agree to do something, do a gut check.
  • --
    Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.

    Visit to learn more about Nozomi . There, you can download the free Leadership Discovery Tool. Follow Nozomi on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.