how to say no effectively without feeling guilty or rude

If you want to be successful in business and all the other areas of your life, it is essential for you to say No sometimes. Think of your time as another type of bank account to help you stop feeling guilty every time you say No.

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Today we’re going to be talking about the difference between successful people and really successful people. Warren Buffet says this, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”


That is such a powerful idea and concept. 


As Latter-day Saint women, we must get better at saying no to things that are good, but not better or best. That can be extremely difficult. So today we’re going to be talking about not only why we need to do that but how to do so without feeling guilty or rude because that’s really what we’re scared of.


Often when we say yes, we’re afraid that we’re going to feel guilty because we didn’t do this good thing. Or we’re afraid the other people are going to think we’re rude. So in today’s episode, we are going to be discussing how to say no without feeling guilty or rude.  


And I have a bit of a treat for you today, because what I’m actually going to do is play a recording from inside my e-course the Good Start Game Plan, which is a course I wrote for beginning entrepreneurs. In this course, we talk about creating boundaries as a way to find more time for our business. Inside that module on boundaries, there is a lesson about how to say no. I’m going to play that lesson for you here. 


If you read this post, you’ll remember that I told you we were going to talk about a different type of bank account. One that would help you understand this concept of saying no. I want you to listen for that today in this recording. 


So now that you have your boundaries firmly in place and have signed a contract to keep them, you need to learn to say no. Because in order to keep your commitments that you have made to yourself, to your Father in heaven, to your family, to your key priority, and to your work, you have to say no to things that get in the way of those priorities.




Now, this is hard. It is so hard. First, I want to read you four quotes that I find motivating and clarifying for me. the first is from Elder Bednar. This is from the same talk I mentioned in an earlier post about the spinning plates.


He talks about how it truly is impossible. Remember he laughed and he said, “you can’t do it all. So stop trying.” He goes on to say this, “if you are attending to your family, by definition, you are neglecting church and work. If you are at work by definition, you cannot attend to the immediate needs of your family.


So when you’re home be home, not at work, not at church. “When you’re at church, be at church, not at home and not at work. And when you’re at work, be at work, not at church, and not at home.”


What he is teaching is to put boundaries around your time. Sometimes we feel guilty putting boundaries around our work time from our children. I still struggle with this. I am right there with you. I still struggle. But I have seen times when it has been so beneficial.




My kids know, for the most part, they know that when it is work time, it’s work time. And when it is playtime, it means the exact opposite. When I’m there for them, I’m all there for them. There are boundaries around both and they are more willing to honor the boundaries I put around my work time or my church time or my key priority time when they understand why I’m doing it.


First of all, they know that the reasons I’m working on my health or to benefit them. But also, when they see you honoring those commitments to them, when they know that when it’s their time, they will really get you they’re more willing to honor those other boundaries.




The next quote is from Warren Buffet. He said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” You really do have to learn to say no more. It’s important. It’s really okay.




I’ll give you another one. This one is from Neal A Maxwell, who is one of my favorite apostles of all time. He thinks so deeply and he says such profound things. So listen to this, he said, “The Lord has given us what might be called the wisdom in order and strengthened means tests.”


There are two different scriptures that talk about that. All things must be done on wisdom and order, and don’t want faster than you have the strength and means. He goes on to say, “Unwisely, we often write checks against our time accounts that we would never dare do against our bank accounts.”


So think about that analogy. Would you write a check against your bank account for $300 if you only had a hundred in it? We wouldn’t dare do that. And yet, we do it with our time. We know we only have this much time and yet we say yes to too many commitments. We only have this much energy left when we have this much wisdom or strength and means, but we write checks. We say yes to much bigger things.


All right. Last is from Rachel Hollis, who honestly, I don’t love. She’s way too much about the hustle and it just kind of drives me nuts. But there is something I do love that she has said. This is something that I learned from her that I’m kind of summarizing.


If you want to like yourself, you must keep the promises you make to yourself.


So if you had a friend and that friend never kept their promises to you, you probably wouldn’t really like that friend very much. And yet we do that to ourselves. We make commitments to ourselves, I’m going to get up and exercise, and then we don’t. And then we wonder why we don’t like ourselves.


So part of saying no is making it possible for you to actually keep the commitments you’ve already said yes to. I will think through something; If I say yes to this, am I actually going to be able to do it? I don’t want to say yes to something and then not be able to do it. 


Practical Tips to help you Say No


All right. I’m going to give you a few practical tips for saying no. And then down below, you can print out a list of actual phrases you can use to say no politely.


Tip #1:


I want you to be slow to say yes. I want you to think through two things. One was what I just mentioned. If I say yes to this, will I actually be able to do it? And number two, What do I have to say no to, in order to say yes to this, because you always have 24 hours. If you choose to do something with one of those hours, you cannot do anything else with that hour.


So are you going to give up sleep? Are you going to give up time with your friends? Are you going to give up time with your kids? Are you going to give up your TV show? Are you good at what are you going to give up? Your morning walk? What is it that you’re going to give up in order to say yes to this item? Think through those two questions before you say yes.


Tip #2:


Surround your No in kindness. So when you say no to somebody say, “I think it is such a great idea that you want to help the homeless community in that way. You would be perfect for that.


Unfortunately, I can’t do that right now. Because I promised my husband, I wouldn’t take on any other commitments.” Right? I promised my family, my husband, whomever. And then, but I know you will do a fantastic job. Surround your No with kindness, that will make it feel easier to give.


I want you to remind yourself that it is better to do five things extraordinarily well than to do 20 at a mediocre level. I want you to think through why you’re making that slow Yes. I also want you to think through, “do I want to say yes to this because I feel like I should, or because I actually want to?”


This is the difference between long-term and short-term consequences. Sometimes I don’t want to do something in the moment. Very rarely do I want to exercise in the moment, but I want the result of that. I’m not asking you to ask yourself, do I feel like doing this? I want you to ask yourself, do I want the result this will bring, or do I just feel like I should do it? Because if you’re only doing it because you should, you’re going to end up bitter and bugged and annoyed. And you’re not going to be giving all of yourself to that thing.


Tip #3:


Once you’ve said no, you’re going to have doubts. You’re going to think, “Oh, maybe I should have said yes to that.” I want you to continually remind yourself of the good that is going to come from saying no to that activity.




One for me that I’ve briefly mentioned earlier is No to field trips. Field trips are something I feel like I should do. They’re not something I enjoy. They’re not something my kids absolutely have to have me there for. They cause me anxiety, but I feel like I should do them. And so I feel a lot of guilt surrounding them because other moms have to go do them.


I have had to ask myself, what are the positive consequences for me and my four top priorities right now? Why am I saying no to this? And I remind myself of what those positive consequences will be.


Hopefully, those tips help you. Good luck holding on, holding firm to your boundaries. I know you can do it. You’ve got this. 




All right. That is the end of the lesson from the Good Start Game Plan. If you want to learn more about the Good Start Game Plan, you can go to


Did you hear it? Did you hear where I talked about a different type of bank account? 


I love this concept from Elder Maxwell. I really want you to start thinking about your time as its own little bank account. And what types of withdrawals you actually want to make on that account.  


Now you probably also heard me mention a list of ways to say no politely. This is basically like Madlibs; it’s fill in the blank statements of how you can say no politely so that you don’t have to feel guilty or rude when you choose to say no to something with integrity. If you would like a copy of this list you need to be on my email list. You can join that list at


I will be sending this out to everybody on my list on Tuesday. If you happen to join my list after Tuesday, you will still get access to it. It will be part of the Resource Library that I make available to all of my email subscribers. So whenever you’re listening to this, make sure you join my list and then head on over to the resource library you’ll get access to, and you can find this resource.  

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This post originally aired as an episode of The Goodness Squad podcast. New episodes are no longer being recorded, but you can still listen to past episodes on your favorite podcast app.

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