Saying "No" to Difficult Requests

How to say "No" graciously, with guest Byron Katie.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #15

How to Say "No"

If it's your boss asking, you can just say, "My plate is full. Let's review my projects and decide what to change so I have time to add something" Then, review and reprioritize. Just make sure the new priorities get added to the objectives for your yearly review.

But if your boss won't listen to reason, or if it's your friend asking you to host an Edible Power Tools party, you just may need to say "No."  The best "No"s I've ever heard are from Byron Katie, New York Times best-selling author of "Loving What Is" and "I Need Your Love--Is That True?"

She graciously agreed to an interview, where she demonstrated an honest "No." (What was she going to say, "No?") Saying "No" doesn't mean you have to get angry, defensive, or unpleasant. You listen fully to the other person. Acknowledge what they've said, and then say "...and no." Let's listen. Katie will demonstrate an honest "No." Listen carefully to her voice tone and the simplicity of her answers. She doesn't argue. She doesn't justify. She doesn't get angry or sarcastic. And she doesn't back down.

So I'll be your boss, and I'm going to ask that you skip some family time for work.

S: Hi, Katie! I know it's 3 o'clock Friday afternoon, but I just remembered I need the TPS report by Monday morning.
K: You know, actually, I'm unable to. I can't. But I know there's another way. Why don't you call ... so-and-so.
S: Oh, but Katie--I need YOU to do it.
K: You know, I hear that, and I'm unable to. Merry Christmas.
S: Surely, you could just do it tonight, after dinner.
K: You know, actually, I'm unable to. I can't.
S: This is going to show up on your annual review.
K: I hear that, and I think that's a very honest thing to do, because in reality, that's correct.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.