Why Saying NO Is Important in the Workplace + How To Do it the Right Way
April 5, 2018
At Work
It's no surprise that many of us have a hard time saying no. That tiny two-letter word can come with loads of guilt and shame, especially if for those of us who are prone to compassion and empathy (raised hand over here!). Simply put, we want to preserve our relationships—whether personal or work related; whether it's a girl's night out or a potential new client. Saying yes can be a wonderful thing when the time is right, but it can also backfire on that whole relationship preservation thing. If we can't keep up, we end up letting others around us down. Saying no is something that really needs to be de-stigmatized; we can't do it all and do it all well. Because when it comes down to it, every no gives us more opportunity for a yes that's really worth it down the line.

Saying NO in Your Work Life

Here at SMP, a big part of our jobs is saying no and trust me when I say it is HARD. We work with an array of incredibly talented vendors in both the lifestyle and wedding industries and receive thousands of submissions each month. We wish we could feature every beautiful piece of content that comes across our desks, but we simply can't. If we did, we wouldn't be the curated platform that we are today—the reason you log in with us on the daily. On some level, most of us experience the stigma of saying no in the workplace, whether it's to a client, co-worker or even a boss.

Clients & Customers

While feedback is typically courteous, it can be ridiculously time consuming and kill productivity. It's OK for no to be a complete sentence, without a reason or a 'sorry' attached to it. But it's also helpful to be courteous. Here's a positive way to say no to potential clients or customers:

Hi Sarah,

Thank you so much for reaching out! I think we'll have to kindly pass at this time, but we so appreciate you keeping us in mind for this project.



Depending on your product or service, this wording may vary—but the general idea is to:

  1. Thank them

  2. Decline

  3. Show appreciation

  4. Provide future opportunities (optional)*

*Depending on your reason for saying no (if you have a full client roster or you feel it is simply not a fit) you can choose to add a note on potential opportunities in the future.

That's it! No 'sorry' needed. Creating canned responses in email is super helpful if that is how you connect with most clients or customers, but the same approach can be taken in person or over the phone, too. Be prepared to be completely honest if you are asked why. You can get yourself into a whole lot more trouble by coming up with excuses than by simply being honest.

Co-workers & Bosses

Saying no to a co-worker or boss can be much more challenging because we equate yes to success and no to failure. We want to impress, we strive for future promotions, we aim for acceptance... and it's easy to get caught in the yes game chasing after those things.

Speaking from personal experience, I busted by booty my first couple of years here at SMP. Like BUSTED, almost broke myself. My relationship with my husband was even affected as I was working ridiculous hours into the night. I took on WAY too much and ultimately, got behind in every project I was working on. Not to mention, wasn't recognized in the way I had hoped. The sad part is that I wasn't being forced to do it—I did it to myself. I said yes to everything in hopes to impress. It was only when I learned the art of saying no that my confidence level rose, my work performance got better and I felt that my time was more respected.

If you're struggling with the same—saying no is so, so important. But you'll also want to chat with your co-worker or boss about the bigger problem. Are you feeling overworked? Are expectations too high? Do you feel your opinion is undervalued? 9 times of out 10, when you approach these situations head on with confidence and honesty, those you work with (or for) will respect you more for it.