top of page

Say no

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

This weekly tweak is part of our series to make work better together - get it direct to your inbox.

The art of saying no. Make work better.
Photo by Vie Studio - Pexels

Have you ever heard the saying ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person?’ This week we are saying no!

In a world where busyness is rewarded and held in the highest esteem it’s a huge challenge to say no. We are conditioned to be busy, say yes, take on more and more and more. And there is a buzz in that, I love the feeling of being at the edge of capacity and I’m knocking it out of the park. It’s exhilarating. We’ve built deep set habits around taking on more. I’d go further and say there are deeply held beliefs and part of our identities are locked up in there too.

But when is it too much? Where is overwhelm and burnout in the equation?

This time of year, I always feel like I’m limping towards the holidays (vacation to our US friends). I’m tired, I need to recoup, I need free time to think of nothing and switch off, I need to feel bored for 10 minutes!

So this is the week I’m saying no. This blog was pre-scheduled because, well, let's be honest, we can't be bursting with energy, creativity, and enthusiasm every week, right? So, for this particular week, I'm embracing the power of saying no, and I want to encourage all of you to do the same.

This week’s twork* - discover the art of saying no

Think about what is most important to you and your work. What can you do that has the greatest impact? What are your greatest priorities?

Look through your to-do list, projects, meetings and incoming requests. Identify what is depleting your time and energy. Identify what is moving you away from your top priorities.

Start saying no.

Now, saying no doesn't mean you're being rude or uncooperative. It's about recognising your own limitations and having the ability to prioritise what truly matters. By learning when to respectfully push back and say no, you're not only serving yourself better, you have the potential to create the space to do better work, have better outcomes and do it without getting too close to burning out.

Saying no is essential for our overall productivity, energy levels, passion, and motivation. When we constantly say yes to everything that comes our way, we spread ourselves thin and end up sacrificing the things that are truly important to us and the most impactful work.

Just imagine the possibilities when prioritising our time and focusing on what matters. Saying no is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength and self-awareness.

How about no meme Angry Frank - say no - the art of saying no

Together, we can make work better by setting boundaries, recognising our limits, and saying no more often. It's time to reclaim control over our work, impact, time and energy. Let's embrace the power of saying no and make our work lives calmer and more fulfilling.

Elevate the twork - managers encourage and exemplify saying no

As a manager, open up to the possibility of pushback. Create the space to talk to your teams openly about this in a one-to-one or group setting.

Consider the following questions:

  • How do we prioritise?

  • What is our workload?

  • Do we have the capacity to do deep or focused work?

  • Is this request bringing us closer or further away from our longer term goals?

  • What’s the impact of saying no?

  • What support do we need to say no?

The following extract from a newsletter by The Ready brilliantly articulates the benefits of mastering the art of saying no.

Getting Down with "No" Gets Us...
From performative productivity too often focused on the wrong things ➡️ To explicit trade-offs prioritizing the most impactful work
From "No" being interpreted as resistance, apathy, combativeness ➡️ To "No" being interpreted as clarity, commitment, transparency
From a culture that treats busyness as a badge of prestige ➡️ To a culture that disrupts overwhelm and prizes space for deep thinking

If you want to talk to us about helping your organisation create conditions where people can thrive, reach out today. We work with businesses at all levels to uncover, understand and make impactful change so people and organisations can thrive.

Let’s make work better together.

Michelle Wallace


A Better Work


To join the Make Work Better Movement, sign up below to get a weekly tweak like this direct to your inbox.

Let’s make work better together.



bottom of page