how to say no

How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard it said that a baby’s first words aren’t “dada” or “mama” but rather the word “no.” That’s up for debate. However, as we grow older, I believe many men lose the ability to say no to other people’s requests—especially regarding the commitment of their time. This has resulted in an increasing number of men experiencing career burnout, broken relationships, high blood pressure, depression, angry outbursts, addictions, or even becoming physically violent.

What is a man to do when he wants to have it all but at the same time continually puts himself at risk of losing it all? A man must learn to say no to what seems good in order to say yes to what is actually best. And here’s a simple way to do just that. When someone presents a request or an opportunity to you, regardless of how good it seems at the time, take at least 24 hours before saying yes. To decide if you’ll accept the offer, spend that time asking yourself the following 3 important questions regarding your most important relationships.

1. Will it BUILD those relationships?

Will this opportunity, or this request, help you build a relationship with your wife, children, family, or friends? God made us to be relational human beings, not striving human “doings” who try to see who can win first place, get to the top of the mountain, or accumulate the most toys.

A man is only as healthy as his relationships. And you can’t build a relationship with anyone if you don’t take the necessary time to do it. So learn how to say no to things that take time away from what matters most to you—your closest personal relationships.

2. Will it STRENGTHEN those relationships?

If you have solid relationships, you’ll have to work to maintain them. Will this seemingly innocent request or great opportunity strengthen your most important relationships? Will it help you appreciate your relationships more, cause you to go deeper in those relationships, or draw you closer to the people you love?

All healthy relationships are built with time, but they’re strengthened by consistency. So never say yes to opportunities or requests that would prevent you from giving and being your best in your most important relationships.

3. Could it potentially HURT those relationships?

Obviously, if something is not growing or getting stronger, that means it’s either at best stagnant, if not weakening or, at worst, dying. Many opportunities look good and seem harmless on the surface. But your yes may come at a cost. The next time you’re asked to do something that sounds good, take a moment to consider the flip side of the opportunity. Ask yourself: “Could this request or opportunity potentially hurt or weaken the relationships that matter most to me?”

Take it from a man who used to say yes to anything and everything that would either further my career, increase my net worth, elevate my status, or win the applause and respect of my peers—no success outside of your relationships is worth failing in your relationships.

Sound off: What is the hardest part of saying no for you?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt pressure to do things you didn’t want to do?”