Speak Easy

Speak Easy: 6 Steps To Embrace A Guilt-Free 'No'

This week, I said ‘NO’ to a sales training engagement that I had previously agreed to before deciding to stop the sales training/consulting side of my business and move 100% into keynote/conference speaking.

Despite an obligation to stick to the engagement with this global training company, I found myself not “feeling it” as the date approached for many different reasons.

Whilst I take all my commitments seriously and had prepped thoroughly, something was missing.

✅ Was it because the participants were not my own clients?

✅ Was it because the training material was not my own material?

✅ Was it because there were gaps in their lead-up and prep?

I couldn't put my finger on it.

Then I realised it was more than that.

I was selling out on myself.

I was doing something that was no longer aligned with my goals, or who I felt I was.

And after the first day of delivery, I had this overwhelming need to say ‘no’ to the engagement.

And I did.

The conversation after the fact was so respectful on both parts as I knew it would be, and the respect I have for this organisation has not changed, nor it for me. The relationship remains intact and it will continue to be because the reasons for the ‘no’ were for the right reasons.

Saying 'no' can feel daunting, especially when you worry about letting others down.

However, mastering the art of a guilt-free “no” is crucial for maintaining your well-being and boundaries.

In the past I would have added to my stress levels by mulling over the decision too much, so this time I sat down and thought through my process.

These steps might help you say ‘no’ with a bit more confidence as well, and more importantly, without any guilt:

  1. Understand Your Big Goal: Mine is to be a Keynote Speaker first, and a coach second. Not a trainer. This clarity helped me make my decision and align to my goals. As I’ve shared in the past, when you have your ladder against the right wall, doing what you love and playing in your zone of genius, you feel more empowered.
  2. Reflect on the 10x Rule: As Ben Hardy and Dan Sullivan wrote in the book 10X is Easier Than 2X, to go 10x is about letting go of the majority of your current life and concentrating on the 20 percent that is most relevant and high-impact. The rest is 2x and linear. This was a 2x activity for me. I had to let it go.
  3. Be Honest and Direct: When you need to say no, be honest but kind. A direct response is more respectful and leaves less room for misunderstandings.
  4. Offer Alternatives: If possible, suggest an alternative solution. This shows you’re still supportive, even if you can’t personally fulfil the request. In this instance I couldn’t offer an alternative, but when I lost my voice earlier in the year for a speaking event at Superior Chamber of Commerce , I definitely offered an alternative speaker.
  5. Practice Self-Compassion: Remind yourself that saying ‘no’ is a healthy part of self-care. It doesn’t make you selfish; it shows you respect your limits so long as you show respect for the other party.
  6. Reflect on the Outcome: Remember that a genuine ‘no’ can be better than an insincere ‘yes’. After reading ‘Essentialism‘ by Greg McKeown, and I’m paraphrasing, I read…. ‘It’s better to feel sad for a few days for saying ‘no’ to the right thing, than sad for a year for saying ‘yes’ to the wrong thing’.

I hope by me sharing these steps, it might help you say ‘no’ with confidence, protect your time and energy for what truly matters and all without the burden of guilt and if not you, then someone in your team or someone you know.

There is a payoff when we:

✅ say ‘no’ to the right things

✅ say ‘no’ to the wrong people and

✅ say ‘yes’ to the best things.

This decision has now freed me up to focus more on my speaking outreach, enabled me to deepen relationships with meeting planners, and freed my time to be better spent on my own business growth with zero obligatory stress.

What will you say a respectful ‘no’ to this week?

As usual..

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant!.

Bernadette McClelland

I bring an extremely powerful and relevant message to the front of the room or to the wider market with my keynotes – ‘The Courage of Conviction and Deliberate Disruption’.

Because if you are not disrupting yourself in the way you think, feel and act – then something or someone else will!

My message is designed for business owners, leaders and salespeople to embrace the courage of their convictions so they can step out, with deliberation, and lead with impact, overcome uncertainty, align brand messages and win more business in a volatile and uncertain economy.

Message me to speak at your next sales meeting or Association meeting.

Visit my speaker site


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