The Girl Who Can’t Say No

The art of Saying No and Not Saying Yes to Everything

One of my biggest faults as a human being is also one of my greatest gifts.  I can’t say no. Even if that means I’m constantly working to catch up, I know how to avoid chasing tail and I understand the art of saying no, I just have to do it. But still, I can’t say no. Well, until recently that is.  My two year old daughter on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have the same problem with the art of saying no.  I’ve counted her saying no five times already this morning.

The art of Saying No and Not Saying Yes to Everything

As this blog becomes more popular and my business takes off, I’m bombarded.  Favors are asked in the form of time, expertise, or even the community I’ve worked hard to build.  It’s exhausting.  I’m a people pleaser by nature.  Maybe you are too.  I like to make people happy.  It’s the reason I cleaned my room as a kid.  I want people to like me.  We all do.  That’s the reason I’m the girl who can’t say no.

You are devaluing yourself, your time by saying yes to everything, and in my case, my business.  When we fail to say no, what we are really saying is, “It’s okay.  My expertise isn’t really that important.”

Failing to say no impacts me in other ways, I’m stretched for time.  It’s hard enough being a new business owner who is also a mom but throw in 3-5 volunteer projects into the mix, and I’m beyond exhausted.  There’s little time left for the person that’s most important: me.

From the Girl Who Can’t Say No to the Girl who’s Saying Yes to Everything Important

I’m saying yes to me.  Yes to the gym.  Yes to making healthy business and personal choices.  And I am saying no to those that don’t.

Now, I’m picking my opportunities.  I am saying no to those offers that aren’t a right fit for me.  I am learning the art of saying no to those opportunities or experiences that aren’t mutually beneficial.  My time matters and yours does too.  I’ve went from the girl who can’t say no to the girl who knows ways of saying yes and saying no. I’ve found that while saying no is hard at first, it becomes easier as time goes by.  It’s helped me further define the niche of my business and where I want it to go.  Saying no is empowering, electric, and just good business.

How are you saying “no” today?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jen says

    I get it! I’m a mom, full time HR person, part time artist, volunteer etc. etc. Keep saying YES to yourself though, it soooo important to recharge your batteries!

  2. kelly says

    You are totally speaking my language..I’m working…and mom to three girls…and volunteering (professionally and personally..) like I’ve got something to prove. I cracked in April when all volunteer jobs hit high volume in time with my work – that thing that I not only enjoy but pays the bills.

    Top it off by visiting one of my favorite conferences and getting penned in by various vendors ready to launch new…best… products…all looking for insight…and well – it’s a perfect storm.

    I’m trying really hard to be selective the next 12 months, even if it turns into the year of no. Not sure how that’s going to go…but we’ll see..


  3. Michael Haberman SPHR says

    I just read a chapter in Alan Weiss’ book The Consulting Bible that emphasized the value of saying no. It is a matter of letting things “creep” into your life and work. So stop allowing “Creepy” things to happen.

  4. Carrie says

    This post makes my heart happy for you 🙂 I’m glad to know you are at this point and I hope to see you continue to grow in your business and continue kicking ass in the stodgy HR world we know and {mostly} love! It’s these types of risks that you are taking that are game changers and lord knows our industry needs it!

  5. Rebel Johnson says

    I most definitely can relate, I am a wife, HR assistant, full time student, part time business owner, artist, on the board of directors at my church, church photographer and mom to two grown children that seem to test me on the no question quite frequently! To saythat my plate is full is an understatement! I think it has gone past me learning to say no, someone needs to ducktape my mouth! You hit the mark when you said you feel it is because you wanted to please people, wanted them to like you…ding-ding-ding, that would be me! Thanks for sharing this, I am going to try to work on this…really!


  1. […] No is one of the simplest, shortest words in the English language. It’s one of the first words that most babies learn and in those young years, one of the most frequently used. Ryleigh, my 4 year old loves the word no. She’s Ms. Bossypants and tells me exactly what I need to do. “No, mom you can’t sit there.” “No, I don’t want to eat breakfast. I want pepperonis.” Ah, the life of a mom. I know you feel me. Throughout our teenage years and I’m sure Ryleigh’s included it will be tossed around with no care for the consequences of what saying it can have. It’s a way to show we have power and control and that the choice to say “no” is ours to make. In fact, most of us exercised that right freely and spouted off a “no” to any parent or teacher that wouldn’t make our lives a living hell if we did. Myself included. I was the girl who couldn’t say no. […]


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