Every Yes is a No

by Theresa Hummel-Krallinger


I would venture a guess that a good majority of us get joy from being helpful and accommodating. That’s why, when someone asks us to do something, we like to say, “Yes.” Just seeing the smile on the face of the requestor fills our heart with joy.

Too bad there are only 24 hours in each day and only so much energy to carry out our tasks. That’s why it’s really important to set some boundaries and learn to say that dreaded word that we, all too often, avoid.


Did the hair just stand up on the back of your neck? Did you have to look away for a second?

Say it with me folks: “No.” Now say it like you mean it. “NO!”

If that feels a little uncomfortable for you, I sympathize with you. You see, I love to be helpful. I love to accommodate. My joy comes from serving others.

What I’ve learned over time, though, is that every yes is a no… and every no is a yes. If I ask you to meet me after work for some advice and a glass of wine, essentially you have two choices. You can say yes, accommodate my request, and probably have a lovely conversation over a glass of your favorite adult beverage. At the same time, you have also said, “No.” You’ve said no to the multitude of other things that you could be doing during that time. You’ve said no to getting home one to two hours earlier. You’ve said no to spending time with someone else. You’ve said no to taking a quick nap after work. (But, I’m glad you did—and I’m looking forward to the conversation and the wine.)

Do you see, though, how every yes is a no—and every no is a yes? Without exception, every time you make that decision you are committing a deliberate “Yes” to something you will do and a deliberate “No” to a myriad of things you will not do.

This is one of the keys to effective time management. Time is one of the things that other people most abuse, but only if we let them. Because there is no direct cost to time (unless you’re a lawyer or some other professional that charges by the hour), requests could chisel away at your day to the point where you’re doing a million things for others and not getting things done for yourself.

So, the next time someone asks you do to something, ask yourself, “What am I saying no to by accepting this request?” and “What is the BEST yes?”  This should help you evaluate all of your choices, ease your ability to say no, and enable you to more effectively set some boundaries for yourself and your precious time.

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.

Theresa Hummel-Krallinger is the founder and president of High Five Performance, Inc., offering organizational culture consulting, customized training development & delivery, and motivational speaking. Before owning her own business, she served as a director in the financial services and pharmaceutical industries. She is a past-president of the Blue Bell club of Toastmasters International and past-president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association for Talent Development. She also serves on the non-credit faculty at Temple University. On the weekends, she performs stand-up comedy at clubs and private events. She can be reached at TKrallinger@highfiveperformance.com .



Twitter – @TheresaHK

2 thoughts on “Every Yes is a No

  1. Pingback: The Assistant’s Top 4 Resolutions for 2021 | IAAP Edge

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