Saturday, May 18, 2024
CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Agenda - Why saying NO can be more powerful than saying YES

CEO Agenda

Why saying NO can be more powerful than saying YES

It is pretty powerful that we have the choice to make this year whatever we want it to be. 

There are things that aren’t in our control, but the good news is we all have the choice to choose and influence how this year looks both personally and professionally. Like writing a new chapter in a book, you choose the settings, the themes, and the characters. The choices are all yours.

Now presents a great opportunity to set goals, review and renew our habits and create new boundaries.

We need to set boundaries and know what we stand for and what we don’t. Brené Brown says “Boundaries are simply what’s ok and what’s not ok”. Nothing complicated but we often make it so.

A challenge many leaders and executives we work with face, is being able to say NO to certain people and situations. I am as guilty as charged as I love being in service to others and love to be involved in everything. This can have a downside to your energy, your focus, headspace and time.

This is where the “NO LIST” comes in. 

This concept I created a few years ago when everyone was banging on about saying YES to everything. I’m pretty sure it was when Jim Carey’s movie “Yes Man” hit the big screen. I’m a huge fan for giving everything a go, probably too much at times, but not to the detriment of your focus, energy and time. I saw a flaw in this and decided to create and share a “NO LIST DIARY” which has been extremely well received and embedded in many organisations. It forces us to create boundaries by be consciously aware of who and what we are saying no to. Very powerful.

The concept is easy and an activity you implement monthly or quarterly both individually and as a team in your personal and professional life.

A helpful tip in saying no to something or someone, is to remember, you are saying ‘no’ to the event, not the person – this will make the process easier and remove the guilt.

Articulate this verbally “Tiana, I’d love to be part of that meeting, I love working with you but as you know we both don’t need to be there, and I can start on our other project. I’m saying no to the meeting, not you”

Create your “No List”:

Think about who and what you need to say no to?


Individually: Journal this

As a team: Flipchart/Whiteboard this

  • Who will you say no to?
    • An example could be that person delegating work to you at the expense of you not achieving your own KPI’s
  • What situations/events will you say no?
    • This could be unnecessary meetings, lunches, workload, certain tasks, projects and so on


  • Who will you say no to?
    • An example could be saying no to a friend who has asked you out for dinner and you feel guilty saying no. Simply articulate it’s not them and you just need some time to rest up.
  • What situations/events will you say no?
    • This could be saying no to having organise a family or social gathering, especially if you are always the one doing this.

The word NO is easy to say but not always simple to do, learning to say ‘no’ without guilt can be empowering and will enable you to spend the right time on the right things and people. We need to serve ourselves in order to better contribute to and serve others in and out of the workplace.

Trying to be everything to everyone is not sustainable long term. Remember you are saying ‘no’ to the event, not the person – this will make the process easier.

Who and what you are saying NO to in order to set clear boundaries and direction for your best year yet?

We would love to hear your thoughts on how this works for you.

Written by Renée Giarrusso.

Have you read?

Best CEOs In the World Of 2022.
TOP Citizenship by Investment Programs, 2022.
Top Residence by Investment Programs, 2022.
Global Passport Ranking, 2022.
The World’s Richest People (Top 100 Billionaires, 2022).

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Agenda - Why saying NO can be more powerful than saying YES
Renée Giarrusso
Renée Giarrusso, author of Gift Mindset and Limitless leadership is a communication, mindset, and leadership expert. She is a speaker, trainer, mentor, and a professional coach (PCC) and works with leaders, teams, and organisations to energise mindset and accelerate leadership and communication to lift performance and create collaborative and connected cultures.

Renée Giarrusso is an Executive Council member at the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn, for more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.