How to Say No

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"The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything." Warren Buffet


Warren Buffet is the second wealthiest man on earth. How did he do it? He said No, especially to himself. A popular exercise he encourages others to try involves three steps which will help you set boundaries, say no to distractions and ultimately create your own success story.


1.    Write down your top 25 career goals.

2.    Select the five most important goals that truly resonate with you. These are your most urgent goals.

3.    Discard the other 20.


Why discard the rest? Because these last 20 will suck away your attention from the five that matter most. Say no to everything on that list save those that speak to your heart. The rest are distractions, keeping you away from obtaining your dreams.


The Etiquette of Saying No

After defining your five goals, move on to keeping them by learning the proper way of saying No. Good manners are key here. Saying no in the wrong way can burn your bridges. Follow the same method when dealing with your inner demanding teenager.

1. Say It

Just say No. Get to the point. If you feel it necessary, explain, but this is not required. Sometimes the less said the better.

2. Be Firm and Set Boundaries

Soften the blow with a genuine apology, “I am sorry, but I can’t do this at the moment. If something changes, I can let you know. Thank you for asking.” 

3. Understand Peoples' Tactics

Saying no does not mean you are a mean person. But, when you say this two-letter word to someone, you are denying them of something they want. Their wants, however, do not necessitate you ignoring what you want or need --it is ok to be selfish here. To conclude, here are three commonly used fallacies to be aware of, traps on your road to success: 


The Ad Hominem Argument

Literally translated, this means “against the man” and is a personal attack on one’s character. But it is more than an insult because it is used as if it were a valid argument or evidence in support of a conclusion. 

Fallacy Example: The use of someone’s education level to exploit and degrade an opponent, "You didn't even finish high school. How could you possibly know about this?"

Video example on Ad Hominem:


The Emotional Appeal Argument

This one will tug at the heartstrings. If your “opponent” knows anything about you, they will attempt this argument at some point to get you to say yes. 

Fallacy Example: A commercial shows a squalid camp with refugees huddled in tents as the camera scans across their small children sitting in the dirt just before asking viewers to donate money.“Think of the children!”

Video example on Emotional Appeal:


The Band Wagon Argument

It is the final plug to get you to do something you may not be too sure of. This argument is number one in the social pressure arena. 

Fallacy Example: Argues that one must accept or reject an argument because of everyone else who accepts or rejects it.“C’mon, man, everybody’s doin’ it.”

Video example on Band Wagon:

Contributed by Angelica Mecham