Yes! It’s Time to Stop Saying “No”

by Carla Howard


There are so many articles, books, videos, and coaching tips published about how women need to say “no” more in their lives. I don’t buy it. We say “no” all of the time… and often to our detriment.

I know—sounds crazy, right? But wait…

I hear women saying “no” way too often, and it often sounds like this:

  • “I saw a great job posted online, but I’m missing some key qualifications, so I’m not going to apply.”
  • “I have a dream of being an author, I wish I had paid more attention in English class. I’m definitely not a writer!”
  • “When I have more experience, I’d like to be a mentor to someone coming up in the business.”

Yep, we say “no” far more than we realize. Sometimes it’s direct, most of the time it sounds like “I’m not ready to…”; “I wish…”; or “When I’ve…”.

Seriously, what is the very worst thing that could happen if we said “yes” more often? Don’t let your inner critic answer this one…

What is really the worst thing that could happen? 

  • Maybe you’ll fail.
  • You might need help.
  • You might <gasp> make a mistake.
  • Someone might say “no” to your big dream. (In this case… try again… and again… and again…)

Yes, these things could happen. Hopefully some of them will! Why? Because that is where the learning is. Once we are over the fear of failing, making a mistake, or needing help, we can move forward and do amazing things!

Here’s what I know for sure.

Saying “Yes” opens the door to learning, possibility, and fulfillment. And saying “Yes” is the only thing that will. 

Have you been asked to take on a new (and scary) project or assignment? Say “yes.” You’ll figure out how to get the job done!

See a cool new job opportunity? Apply for it. No candidate is perfect, and you can learn what you don’t know on the job. Here’s a fun fact. Men tend to apply for a job when they meet 60 percent of the qualifications. Women? We only apply if we meet 100 percent of the qualifications.

In other words, we say “no” before we ever have a chance to say “yes.”

Don’t think you’ve gotten caught up in the “no habit?” Try this:

For the next week, write down every time you say “no.” It might be a very clear “no,” or it may be that voice inside your head that says:

  • Not now…
  • You’re not ready…
  • I’ll do that when…

Then, write down the great things that could have happened if you’d said “yes.” I’ll bet the potential reward will far outweigh the risk.

If you’re still struggling to say “yes,” try writing yourself a permission slip.

I’m not talking about an imaginary permission slip. I mean an honest to goodness permission slip that you’ll carry with you. It might sound something like this:

“I give Carla permission to be bold in the strategy meeting this afternoon, and to share her idea about the new product.”

I totally get it. “No” feels safe. And, we’ve been conditioned to say it more often and with the confidence that we are engaging in self-care when we do.

I believe the bigger problem is that we default to “no” when our big dreams come calling.

The next time you feel a “no” bubbling up, try “yes” instead.

Then let me know how it goes… I’ll be here rooting for you!

IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event.

Carla Howard is a keynote speaker, author, and professional mentor. Her mission is to help women become more influential and promotable so they can rise with confidence and grace! To learn more about Carla and the programs and services she offers, visit her website.

You can email Carla directly with comments or questions.

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