The Power of Saying No

On this episode of THE COMPANY WE KEEP podcast, host Jason Pearl tackles the struggle many of us face with saying "no." He dives into why it's so hard, provides a checklist of questions to go through as you're making your decisions, and also helps you with tips for when you're ready to deliver the news. This episode is jam-packed with actionable advice you can apply to any personal or professional decision that comes your way.

Jason Pearl: All right. All right. Welcome to another episode of The Company We Keep podcast excited to be doing a solo episode today. I'm in the new digs, the new podcast studio and office on the third floor of my house still needs some furniture, but that's coming. Good news is we're in here and ready to put out some great content for you guys.

This podcast The Company We Keep is for everyday business owners and entrepreneurs who want to think differently about growth, want to think differently about success and want to think differently and achieve better balance in both business and life.

And in today's episode, we are going to be talking about the power of saying no. I've got some personal stories as to why this is so important and some takeaway steps that you can have to help you understand the opportunity you have in front of you, and ultimately how to provide the proper way to say no to the opportunity, if it, of course, does not serve you.

So really excited for you to be joining us today on the solo episode. And I hope you enjoy it – check it out.


Over the past few weeks, I've had a handful of people in my close circle. The company I keep, that have come to me with similar issues, and the issues that these people were coming to me with was struggling to say no. Whether it be something in their personal life or something going on in their professional life. Each one of these individuals was struggling with the word no. They were struggling with being able to say no to an opportunity or to something that came up that people were putting in front of them. And what I found so interesting, and after it happened the second or third time, I was like, wait a minute. Over the last couple of weeks this is the now third time that somebody brought this up. And in actuality, it happened four times in two weeks. And I thought, okay, well, this has got to be a podcast episode because if this is coming to me in a short period of time, obviously this is something that a lot of people are struggling with. So I thought, hey, why not? Let's put it out there and see if we can help some more people.

So today we're going to be focusing on the importance and the process of saying no. What's so interesting about all of this: two letters, one word, like, like what are the shortest words in the dictionary in the English language is no. But it's so hard to say, and it's hard to save for a lot of different reasons.

And certainly each one is unique, but I wanted to dive into a little bit of that today and the importance of saying no. And maybe giving you some tools as to how you can effectively comfortably and confidently say no. As we go through and kind of start talking about this, you may remember back in season one of our podcast episode, I believe it was nine or 10, we had talked about the evolution of my decision-making. How I evolved as a human being and as a professional in how I made decisions in my life. So that's a great episode to go back and look at and listen to again. But this is specifically going to be around how to go through the process of evaluating an opportunity. And then if you want to say no, how do you effectively work through that? And then how do you ultimately say it? So that's what we want to focus on today.


And what I found so interesting about this is that in our culture today saying no is hard for a number of different reasons, but to just name a few: number one, we're a culture of people pleasers. We like to be agreeable. There's a lot of folks that are out there that identify as people pleasers and identify as either being a positive or a negative. But ultimately they believe that there are people pleasers. Secondly, and this may shock you seeing as though all the stuff that we've gone through as a nation and as a society over this past election season, people do oftentimes want to avoid conflict. And saying no can cause conflict, whether it be family conflict or business or personal conflict, saying no has power. So when you say it there's conflict that can happen. And again, as a society, oftentimes we want to avoid conflict. We also have this almost unhealthy way of feeling like we have to be selfless. Like if somebody asks me to do something or if something is asked of me as an employee or as a business owner, or as a leader, I need to say yes because I need to be selfless, right? I have this pressure of feeling like I need to be selfless and saying no is selfish. I'm here to tell you that saying no is not a selfish act. Oftentimes it's one of the most selfless things that you can do again, depending on the situation. And then finally, I know that I myself have struggled with this. I know I live in a household. My wife is a perfectionist and someone that feels like she needs to be productive all the time. And I know so many people that I've spoken to that feel this immense pressure to be productive in every moment of the day. And you'll hear everyone say, well, how does that person have, I feel like that person maybe has more than 24 hours in a day. I feel like they never sleep because they're always doing things and it's this pressure we feel to be consistently productive. And because of that, we commit ourselves and say yes to things that maybe we shouldn't have, because we feel like, oh, you know, what else would I be doing? Maybe I'd just be sitting on the couch or I don't need to go play golf or I don't need to just take a nap or I don't need to rest. I need to be productive. And that creates some level of unhealthiness for sure. And there's a lot of other reasons why here in our culture we have a problem with saying no. But these are certainly a few of the examples.


So one of the things that I obviously know to be true is that when we are going to be successful at something, whether it's business, whether it's it's a skill, whether, whether it's we possess knowledge or something that others want, we will be sought after. What we know to be true is one of the only things in this world that we can not buy is time. We cannot buy time back– once time passes, we can't go backwards and get it back. So what we have to do is we have to be really intentional as we live, whether it be personally or professionally, and understanding what is going to take up our time.

And again, we live in a world where there are a number of different things that can take up our time and waste our time. I mean, think about that, like scrolling on your phone. I know that I've wasted a significant amount of time where you're just mindlessly scrolling on Twitter, your social media platform of choice, where you just waste your time.

Certainly, you know, we live in the Netflix world is streaming of any show that you want, or any movie you want, you, you just sit on a couch and be like, oh, just one more episode or one more episode. And then before, you know, you've spent, I don't know, six or eight hours sitting and watching television wasting your time or it's video games or something else like that.


This story and the people that I've been dealing with and the people that I had in my circle that have been struggling with saying no to certain opportunities. I found that there was a few common themes to what the people were struggling with. And I think like 60 or 70% were business opportunities, and a few of the others were personal things that, that the people in my network were struggling with. But a few of the things that cause problems is number one, the people I was talking with saying no is so hard because they didn't want to disappoint. They didn't want to disappoint the people that we're asking them to do something. And the disappointment was real. It was I don't want to say no to these people because I like them, or they've been good to be in the past. And I feel almost obligated to say yes, so the disappointment fear was real and it was something that they were very concerned about.

Number two, one of the issues was it was going to make more work for them and they just didn't have the time or the energy or the effort to put into it. But the people on the other end that were making this offer didn't see that. So that became an issue.

One of the other things was money. When opportunity came up with somebody I knew, and it was a significant amount of money, a significant amount of money that would maybe help their family, but was going to cause some other issues. And the money was the thing that was really hard to say no to. So again, there was a few other situations: but disappointment, make more work or time or money were three of the reasons that they wanted to say that they were struggling to say no to the people that were making these offers to them. And what, what I think is interesting is out of that, to be clear when you're making these decisions and saying, no, there's a few takeaways. I think you need to, you need to run through a decision-making process before you say yes or before you say no to whatever opportunities in front of you. So the first thing, if you've listened to season one, I talk a lot about defining success: success, according to this podcast, as nothing to do with money and has everything to do with what you, as an individual find to be success in your life. And if it is money, that's something that you need to maybe work through and make sure that like money isn't the only thing that you're working for because money's fleeting, but we'll come and we'll go. But if that's all you're focused on, your worth goes way down when you don't have it. And it goes way up when you have it, which is a problem.

One of the things when you're working through this decision process is you have to ask yourself, is this in line, is this opportunity, is it in line with who I am as a person? Morally. And again, none of these situations that I was dealing with, had to do with like, kind of like a moral, moral issue or moral situation. But one of the things that was interesting about it is it, it started to infringe upon what, what people define as their success. And sometimes that success was maybe more time with family or things like that. And this would take that away. So you have to figure out like, is this in line morally with, with what I think, but also is this in line with what I'm defining success as, because saying yes to whatever an opportunity is oftentimes means saying no to something else. So when you say yes to one thing, you're likely saying no to something else, so you have to make sure that whatever the decision is, it's in line with your vision, and the definition of what your personal and professional success is.

And then another tip, so a third option is what will it cost you to say yes or to say no? And you have to work through that type of process. So especially when you're dealing with something really professionally or on the other hand, personally, there is normally cost or payment of something when it comes to saying yes or to saying no. So what will it cost you? Will it cost you time? Will it cost you money? Will it cost you relationships? Cause as I said before, saying yes to one thing often is saying no to something else. You have to work through that process and understand what is it going to cost you to commit?

The fourth thing that I think is important to work through as well as the opportunity that's in front of you, is it going to drain you or is it going to fill you up? On episode two of season two, Lauren Johnson had this great quote. She said like you're either a drain or you're a fountain. You know, obviously drains are very easy to understand, you know, they, they suck everything out of you and fountains overflow, and they help you fill up. Is the opportunity you're saying yes to, is that something that you're looking forward to? Is that something that you wanted to do? Is it going to fill you up, right? Is it going to excite you? Is it going to ignite you? Is it going to do all those things or is it going to drain you? Is it going to drain your time? Is it going to drain your energy? Is it going to drain your soul out of you because it's going to overwork you and really beat you down and be really stressful and things of that nature? So you have to work through and say, is this, is this going to be a drain or is this going to be a fountain in my life? And whatever the answers are to the drain or the fountain should likely help you make that decision as to what's next.

And then finally I'd say maybe a fifth takeaway is you're making these decisions are like, you know, what is the motivation of why you would say yes? What's the main motivation? Is it money? Is it status? Is it acceptance? Is it trying to prove something or be someone you're not? You have to work through it and I'm giving negative connotations, it could have very positive results as well, but you have to understand what the motivation is. And then you have to make sure that it aligns with, with kind of what you want your future to look like.

So again, just kind of recapping, you have to: number one, figure out is this in line with who you are as a person morally, and things of that nature is that in line? Number two, is saying yes in line with my vision of what I define success as both personally and professionally. Three, what will this decision or this opportunity cost you? Okay, because saying yes to something often means saying no to something else. Four, is this opportunity, is it going to be a drain or fountain in my life? Is it going to fill me up like a fountain or is it going to drain me? Number five, what is my key motivation or wanting to say yes or no to this? So as you work through those, I think that'll help you figure out your yeses or nos with the opportunities that come in front of you.


And then finally, how do you deliver the news? And this is where I think most people have the biggest problem. It's how do I get those two letters and that one word out of my mouth? How do I say no? And I think that there's a few things that you need to focus on here. Number one, if you're going to say no to an opportunity, you have to be direct and you have to be honest. Okay. You can't beat around the bush. You can't give soft reasons or kind of like straddle the yes or the no. When you make a decision, you have to commit to that decision and it has to be direct, and it has to be honest, right? That doesn't mean direct and honest can't come with like love or with understanding, but you have to make sure that when you're delivering your decision, there's no question as to, are you in, are you out, are you saying yes or are you saying no? Cause you're saying no, but you're kind of saying yes – that's going to confuse everyone and it's going to, it's not going to serve the people that are giving you the opportunity. So you have to be direct and you have to be honest. You have to let them know though I would, I would let them know, like I've given careful consideration to this. Maybe you say, like I worked through these five things and given careful consideration to this opportunity. It's no because of these reasons, but I respect the opportunity that you gave me. I thank you for that. And I wanted to let you know that I didn't take this lightly. I thought through it, and this is my answer, but I appreciate the opportunity.

Secondly, I think it's really important to match the opportunity with the way you communicate the decision. And what I mean by that is if it's a big opportunity, whether it be work or professional or even personal, you should match the way you communicate your decision with that. And I'd always try to overmatch it. So what I mean by that is like, if you don't have the opportunity to do, to give someone to decision face-to-face, I get that, but call them on the phone or try to do a Zoom call with them or something like that. Don't text them. Don't email them. Don't tell somebody else to go tell them what your decision is, because that basically tells the person that you gave the opportunity to that you giving them your decision wasn't important enough to do in a way that maybe they propose the opportunity to you. So I always kind of feel like if you're, if you're looking at how do I do this, I'd always go to the next level. And it would show those people that, although you're saying no, you provided them the respect of the opportunity.

And then finally just be gracious and thankful. What I know to be true is just because an opportunity comes up doesn't mean you have to say yes and saying no is okay, but if you're not gracious, you're not respectful, you're not thankful for the opportunity, that may cause people in the future to not want to propose opportunities to you because you don't handle it or give it the right level of respect.

Be direct and honest in the best way possible, phone, in person or Zoom, and then be gracious and thankful. And I think if you go through and work through this process, you'll find that even if it's just like a checklist that you do, you'll find that you'll feel a lot more comfortable with your decision after you analyzed everything, how it's going to affect you, how it's going to affect your life. And then you're ultimately going to be confident and being able to give the decision to those folks.


So isn't it amazing that we can talk about the power of saying no and how you need to work through those decisions. Again, two letters, one word, it's so hard to say though, and I get that.

I've struggled with that, but I think that if you define and go through these steps that I just discussed, you'll find that it's going to be easier. And you're going to be significantly more clear about what you want out of your life and what you want out of the time that you spend on whatever you choose to spend your time with.

So again, hope you guys enjoyed this solo episode. This was something that I thought was going to be really important to kind of share with you because there's so many people in my circle that are struggling with this. So hope this helped. If you have any feedback or things that you want to talk to me about with this or your own experiences with it.

Check out You can find all sorts of ways to connect with me, and then we can have some fun kind of chatting about this, but hope this helps look forward to chat with you next time. All right, peace.