The Power Of Saying No

The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything — Warren Buffet.

Saumu Kamau
3 min readMay 18, 2022
Photo by on palto on shutter shock

Growing up, I was taught that answering ‘no’ was a rude and negative response. My parents considered it very impolite to use no as a response to any of their requests or suggestions. It would warrant a few spanks at times. “Saying no hurts people, is rude and can make you lose out on opportunities,” was my kindergarten teacher’s signature line in every sharing lesson.

As a result, if anyone said no to me, I would interpret it as if they were saying, ‘I hate you,’ or ‘your idea is silly.’ No was an answer that easily upset and offended me for the better part of my teenage years and twenties.

I recently learnt that ‘no’ is the shortest most powerful word in my vocabulary. It carries a lot of power and makes you feel responsible enough to make your own decisions, which is a great feeling.

Why do people say yes even when they mean no?

The need to please others — This is the fear that saying no will hurt the other person and since you have a nature of kindness and helpfulness, you choose to put the needs of others first.

The preference of peace than being right — Most people prefer to be at peace with the society at the expense of doing the right thing. By doing the right thing, you are true to yourself and are at peace with yourself. True peace starts internally. Don’t drain yourself seeking to save others.

The fear of not being enough — Most people feel that by saying no they are failing in what they are supposed to achieve. For example, at work, and your schedule is full, they feel that their boss might view them as weak if they say no. The outcome of this becomes high volumes of low quality work. By saying no you could achieve fewer tasks that are of high quality.

The Benefits of saying no

Gives you time to assess the situation — It is easier to say no then change your mind to yes, than say yes then later change your mind to no. In most instances, if you do the latter, you are considered a liar. Saying no gives you time and space to weigh the pros and cons before you venture into a situation.

Saying no to someone else means saying yes to yourself — By saying no to an invitation, it means you have time to stick to your schedule. This will help you achieve your set targets. You decide on where to apply your energy. By doing this you start to thrive.

You control the environment, it does not control you — By saying no, you are in control of what happens around you. If you don’t, then you are shaky, indecisive and likely to fail. For success to be part of your journey, you need to have a direction and can only achieve that if you are not swayed by always saying yes.

Saying yes to everything leaves you exhausted, broke, frustrated, stressed, time-poor, looking busy but yet being very unproductive. Only say yes when you are sure that your decision is beneficial to you and doesn’t in any way negatively affect your priorities.

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Saumu Kamau

Professional listener, expert in mental wellness, contemporary women issues, and women health. I love offering therapy and listening to people.