111. How to Say No (The Mini Say No Stack)

Do you say Yes when you want to say No because you’re afraid of hurting other people’s feelings? Do you end up over-committing or over-scheduling your life because you don’t want to be rude?

This episode is ALL about how to say No with grace and clarity to help you alleviate overwhelm and stress in your life. Enjoy! xo, Janeen

> WATCH on YouTube



Well, Hey there, you guys, I am super excited to be back with you today talking about how to say no. So if you are brand new to the podcast, welcome! I am Janeen Alley and I am, as always, super excited to be with you guys today.

So before I dive into the podcast today, there’s two things that I wanna say before we dive in. The first thing is if you have not left me a review, I would love it if you went and left me a review on whatever podcast platform that you’re listening to. I would love to hear the things that you are enjoying about the podcast and how it has made a difference in your life. So if you haven’t left a review, please go leave a review on whatever podcast platform you listen to.

The second thing is I would love it if you shared this podcast episode with a friend. We all have friends who struggle to say no. So if there’s someone specific that you’re thinking about as you’re listening to this podcast that could benefit from this episode, I would love it if you passed it along to that person.[00:01:00] Thank you so much.

Okay. So today on the podcast, we are talking about how to strengthen your no muscles . So this content is a contender for one of the bonuses of my brand new course. I have a mini course, that’s called The Say No Stack, and I am going to be sharing five out of my 10 tips today with you on the podcast.

And I’m doing this to kind of give you a flavor of what’s inside of The Burnout Breakthrough. Like I said, this is just part of the bonus content, but I am only sharing five, just to be fair to the others who have paid for The Burnout Breakthrough course.

All right, so let’s dive in. Okay. So yes and no are both powerful words when it comes to our productivity. So the reason why I say this is when we’re thinking about our priorities and the things that we really wanna take on in life. When we get really clear on what those things are, it makes your nos so much easier.

So when we get [00:02:00] crystal clear on what our yeses are, it’s so much easier for us to say no. If this is something that is really difficult for you to say, if you have a hard time saying no to people, this is not going to feel very easy at first. It’s gonna feel a little bit clunky. You’re gonna feel probably out of your comfort zone. But I promise you the, the more that you practice saying no and the more you think things through the better you will become at saying no with grace and with kindness and the way that you want to.

So, if you are clear on how a request or opportunity lines up against your priorities, you can easily see if it’s something that you ultimately want because it’s aligned with your vision. But first you have to have that vision, right? Otherwise it feels kind willy-nilly and we’re all over the place and we end up taking on too many things, which, of course, contributes to our stress and ultimately leads to us getting burnt out.

So fortunately there is [00:03:00] an art to saying no. So if you feel like any time that you’ve said no in the past, you just kind of come on too strong or you feel like you bulldoze over other people it doesn’t need to be this way.

You don’t have to feel rude or unkind or ungraceful, or even ungrateful, as you say no. You can actually leave the other person and yourself better off for saying no.

If you are brand new to me and you want to know more about how to say no, I want to recommend another episode that I’ve done on this topic.

It’s a similar topic to this one. I want you to go back and listen to episode number 41. This is one of my most popular episodes of the podcast. It’s got really good content in there about trade offs and understanding how time is a zero sum game. So if you are interested, go back and listen to episode number 41. After you’re finished with this one.

Now I do have to give a little fair warning here when it comes to saying no, even when you get really good. At saying no. And you play by all rules and you [00:04:00] say the kindest words, you will still end up being misunderstood sometimes. You will still end up ruffling some feathers or even offending someone despite your best intentions. And that’s okay. That is life, my friends. However, The Mini Say No Stack that I’m sharing with you today will help you minimize the chances of that happening by helping you focus on your intentions and the way that you are showing up.

All right. This is some content that was previously shared in episode 41. But I feel like it’s worth repeating here again. So this is heavily influenced by William Ury and Michael Hyatt. And like I said, I just feel like this is worth mentioning again, because this resonated so strongly with me before. As some of you are aware, I am a recovering people pleaser, and I still feel like I have a tendency to do this from time to time, but I have gotten way better at saying no and particularly what not to do. So [00:05:00] again, this really resonated with me, and this is why I am sharing this with you again.

So the first tip of what not to do is to not soften the blow by saying “next time,” or “I’d love to,” or “ask me again in a month or two,” if you don’t mean it. We think, when we do this, that we are helping the other people feel better about our no, right. The other people pleasers in the audience can relate to this.

But number one, it’s lying. And number two, it leads people on. They might believe you when you say, “next time” and they will circle back with a future ask that puts you back in the same position of figuring out how to say no.

The second thing in what not to do is to not accommodate other people. We say yes, when we mean no because we don’t wanna hurt other people’s feelings. We are concerned that if we say no, the other person won’t like it and they won’t like us.

So what we do is we sacrifice our [00:06:00] time to try to accommodate the other person. So here’s the truth. We cannot choose how other people respond to things. If they don’t like our no, even if we don’t get it quite right, we might walk away and be like, I could have done that a little bit better, that’s okay. This is part of the learning process. Like I said, you will get better at saying no, but how your no is received is not your business. It’s not your job anymore. You’ve said no, now it’s time to move on.

Okay. The third thing is to not attack people. now I have been in a situation where I feel like there has been a lot of things coming at me and so I start to get stressed out and I start to get snappy with people. So let me just ask you, have you ever been in a situation where you feel super stressed about something and someone asks you to do something and you snap. This is the attack, my friends, I don’t know if you’re there with me, but I have done this several times and [00:07:00] this is when we say no poorly. It’s like all of our stress comes bubbling out and we react. We do this because we feel like our interests and our time are at risk of being taken away. And so we lash out to protect ourselves. This is kinda like the mama bear that comes out. We are speaking from our stress and from our fear and from our irritation and from this pressure that we feel. The best way that I have found to not attack other people is to give myself some space. I need some space to take me out of that reactive mode where I just wanna lash out and say something I’m gonna regret in two seconds. And I just need to give myself some space by saying something like, let me get back to you on that.

That’s it! It allows me to have a little bit of space to breathe and to create a better response. Okay. The next thing that I wanna say when it comes to what not to do is don’t avoid people. This is [00:08:00] when we say nothing at all.

This happens to me sometimes when I see someone at the grocery store or at a church function or somewhere out and about in town and I wanna zip around the corner and duck into the nearest bathroom, because I don’t want to say no. So another way that we do this is we might see a text and ignore it. I actually don’t do this one very often.

I do respond to my text, but we do this in many ways. Right. We just pretend like we didn’t see the ask or the other person at all. This is kind of like the two year old under the blanket, right. They’re thinking to themselves, “well, if I can’t see you, then you can’t see me” okay.

This is inconsiderate, it is cowardly, and it is rude. So no one likes to feel ignored or slighted. So I want you to own your no and state it clearly. And again, this comes with practice. and the last thing I wanna say here, when it comes to what not to do is you don’t [00:09:00] want to be wishy washy with your no, you wanna make no doubt in the other person’s mind it’s a no. So you can be kind and you can be clear and you can still say no. You want to practice not being wishy washy in your response to someone else.

Okay. The first way that I recommend as far as how to say no is what I call The Say No Sandwich. So this response works because you’re almost always creating win-win for everyone without sacrificing either the relationship by saying no poorly or your priorities, the things that you really want from your life.

Let’s be honest, we don’t really want someone working on a project for us who said yes, out of feelings of obligation. Okay. Whether it’s a project or an event or something, whatever it is our ask is we don’t want someone doing it because they feel like they should. Okay. This usually leads to feelings of resentment or mediocre performance at best, or being stretched [00:10:00] so thin that they end not doing well or even getting sick. So the answer for this is what I like to call The Say No Sandwich. And I’ve seen this in many, many different ways.

So I don’t know who came up with it first, but here’s how the say no sandwich works. First, we say yes. We say yes to ourselves and protecting what’s important to us. At the same time, you also want to affirm the other person with a kind remark. So you can say something like, “thank you so much for asking me to work with you.”

Or “this project sounds like an amazing opportunity. I feel really honored to be asked to join you.” And then you say, no. So, like I said, wishy washiness is out. You need to be matter of fact and kind in your, no. Don’t leave any wiggle room or ambiguity, which opens the door for them to come back with a different version of the same proposal later on.

So you wanna make it really clear. “Unfortunately, I’m unable to take anything else on at the moment.” And then [00:11:00] lastly you say yes again. You want to leave the conversation with another kind remark or affirmation of your relationship with them. You don’t want them to take your no personally.

So you can say something like, “I wish you the best of luck as you move forward. Keep me posted with how things progress.” Again. You only want to add this last part in, if you honestly want updates on how things are progressing. Right? So the thing is, is again, you can’t control how someone else is going to feel. You can do your best here with the say no sandwich, but again, even if you’re not trying to make it personal for them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t take it personally. That is up to them. But this is one of the ways that I have found is really effective when it comes to saying no.

All right. So the say no sandwich is something that I use all of the time. I think the second, my second runner up as far as how to say no, is this one right here. And this is to let my calendar say no for me. So this [00:12:00] strategy works really well if you are brand new to saying no, or your default response from the past has always been to say yes. Somebody asks you to do something and you’re like, “yeah, a hundred percent.

I’m totally in!” Okay. This gives you, like I said, a little bit of cushion, a little bit of space between the ask and your response to let you craft a really clear and kind response. So when someone approaches me with an ask I can say something like, “Hey, I’m not sure. Let me check my calendar.” And this, like I said, creates a little bit of distance between you and the ask.

This gives you some space to objectively look at your life and to see if it’s something that you want to make time for. Letting your calendar say no for you always gives you a little bit of time to craft your perfect response. It’s brilliant.

So remember with any ask, you want to get all of the details that you possibly can about what you are agreeing to take on. When somebody comes to you and they ask you to be a part of something you want to [00:13:00] then start asking questions. When is it? How much time commitment is this going to be? I was actually just at a soccer kickoff banquet for my son, Isaac, and they wanted parent volunteers. And so these are the questions I was asking. How much time does it take during the week?

What are you asking us to do? What are the tasks that you want divided up? How many helpers do we have altogether? All of these things are really good things to know before you can commit.

You want to give yourself time to figure out the time commitment and find out if the project is aligned with your priorities. And I know for myself, most of the things that people ask me to do are not aligned with my time priorities. And that is okay. We often get way too many emails, way too many asks all of those things.

There’s just an overabundance of things going on. And there’s only so much time during the day. So you wanna be really careful about what it is that you’re committing to and the calendar allows you to craft the perfect [00:14:00] no response.

Okay. The next example that I’m sharing with you is actually where I started when I started learning how to say no. I just wanted to keep it really, really simple. What I realized is I just didn’t owe anyone any explanations for anything

And so when I realized that I realized, Hey, I can just say no and keep it really simple. Okay. So there are plenty of places where a simple, no statement is sufficient. But I feel like these work best when declining food. So if you know my story, you know that I started off in the health and fitness space, particularly with nutrition coaching and those kinds of things.

I cannot tell you the number of people, myself included, who have shared that they have often eaten something that they knew wasn’t good for them because of social pressure.

So here’s the truth about this when it comes to your health, no one is gonna stick up for you, but you. And it’s the same with your calendar. When it comes to your [00:15:00] calendar, no one is gonna defend the time on your calendar like you can because you’re the only one who knows the intricate details of your day to day. Not even your spouse, not even your kids are gonna know what it is that you’re doing with your time during the day. Getting comfortable saying a simple no, whether it’s with food or with time or whatever it is, will serve you well for the rest of your life.

So for example, if someone passes around a plate of cookies, this is actually something that happened to me last night, the easiest answer is, “no thanks.” Or “I’ll pass this time. Thank you.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation, like I said. You can keep it short and simple and you can feel totally good about your answer.

Just smile. Be super kind. And move on. That’s it.

Okay. The fourth example that I’m gonna share is what I call acknowledging the trade off. So anytime we say yes to something, you wanna be crystal clear on what you’re saying no to at the same time, [00:16:00] because your time is at stake, right?

If you’re giving it to something else, what are you not going to use that time for that you otherwise would have if you hadn’t made that commitment. So this might require some thinking time to really recognize what you’d be giving up. Maybe it’s time with family, maybe it’s downtime, or exercise time, time for a specific project that you’ve been wanting to do for so long. And because this has been your knee jerk response in the past to say yes to helping somebody out, it doesn’t mean this behavior has to be the norm moving forward into the future. So here’s a way that you can state this in your no: “thank you so much for considering me.

However, I have another commitment at that time.” Yes. Even if your commitment is your treasured and much needed downtime.

That reason is valid. Let me say it again. “Thank you so much for considering me. However, I have another commitment at that time.” Yeah. I’m gonna be taking a bath [00:17:00] and reading my book and yes, that’s what I’m doing. they don’t need to know. Or maybe you wanna share. But either way, it’s valid. Here’s another way that you can say this, “I have other commitments that need my attention right now and I’m unable to participate.” So yes, other commitments like your mental, emotional, physical health, a hundred percent.

Here’s another little tip for you. You can incorporate this kind of no into a say no sandwich and it works out beautifully. All right.

Okay. The last thing that I wanna talk about here is the right way to graciously bow out of current commitments. I know some of you right now have overcommitted. From time to time, we all get in a little over our heads. So if you’ve overcommitted and something unexpected has come up, you want to be honest and gracious, not only with yourself, but with the person that you’ve committed to.

One thing I wanna say upfront is I am not a fan of bailing on commitments. If you know me, you know, I [00:18:00] highly value showing up for the things that I have committed to. When we say no, after we’ve committed to something, we are leaving someone high and dry.

So unless I’m in dire straits, like an unexpected health concern has come up, or my husband was just tasked with an unexpected deployment or something like that, honoring my word is extremely important to me. And if I’ve overcommitted, I will see it through to the end. Sometimes it feels like to the bitter end and learn what not to do next time.

That that really is the key takeaway for me. How am I not going to get myself in this kind of pickle next time? Okay. So here is how we can graciously bow out if we need to. So number one, you must take responsibility for making the commitment. Don’t say something like, “well, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into.” This is your responsibility from the get go is to get all of the information that you can. Ask all of the questions that you possibly can [00:19:00] before you say yes. That is your responsibility to ask all of those questions before committing. The second thing to do is to reiterate your willingness to honor your commitment.

Like I said, you don’t wanna leave someone high and dry if they are depending on you. I have been in that situation. And let me just tell you, it sucks. When people bail on you, I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you as well, it is no fun.

The third thing here is you want to explain that honoring your commitment is not the best outcome for either of you. So by taking this extra thing on, you’re going to be spread too thin and you might not be able to make the cut or, or reach the expectations of what was originally laid out for you just because of a time crunch or because of other ways that you have to show up in your life. So you want to communicate that to the other person.

And the last thing here is you want to offer to help solve the problem with them. Whether that’s finding someone to take your place either fully or partially or extending the deadline so that you can get a little bit more [00:20:00] time back during your week.

And it might happen, you guys, that none of these options work. And if that’s the case, you just need to do your best and see it through to the end. That is something I firmly believe. So please don’t leave someone out to dry, unless it’s a family emergency or something.

So the last thing that I’m gonna say here is if you need help implementing this information, I would love to have you join me for The Burnout Breakthrough. The doors to The Burnout Breakthrough open next week. And there are two things that are coming up that I want you to be aware of. So there is a live masterclass that is happening with me, so you can head over to janeenalley.com/masterclass to join me live so that we can talk about some of the main mistakes that I’m seeing when it comes to women and their time.

The other thing that I want to let you know is there is some really special bonus material that you want to be aware of before cart opens so that you can make a really clear choice on what it is that you [00:21:00] are signing up for. Some of that bonus content is limited. Meaning there are only so many seats. So you do wanna know when the door’s open so that you can snag one of these exclusive spots if you’re interested in joining me for The Burnout Breakthrough.

So I hate to be exclusive when it comes to content, but there is only one of me and these opportunities have to do with working with me directly. So I want you to get on the wait list. If you are interested in The Burnout Breakthrough at all, and if you want some personal attention, get on the wait list so that you can know when those special bonuses are going live.

So even if you are still on the fence about joining me for the course, just get on the wait list so that you can get the inside scoop on everything that is going on. You definitely wanna be on the wait list. And the way to get on the wait list is to go to janeenalley.com/waitlist.

Now, if you miss the special bonus content, not to worry my friends, there is so much great content inside of the course that I’m so excited to share with [00:22:00] you there is going to be coaching sessions with me, all of the things. It’s gonna be amazing. So just get on the wait list

at any time and join me inside of The Burnout Breakthrough. I promise you, you do not wanna miss this course. It’s going to be amazing. All right, you guys, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. . Both the masterclass and the wait list are going to be linked inside of the show notes, both on the blog and on the notes for the podcast. If you’re listening on your phone to the podcast, just scroll down and you’ll see the links there for you to click on and to join me.

All right, you guys have a beautiful week. We’ll talk to you soon. Take care. Bye.