“It is easier to stay out than get out,” once quipped Mark Twain, who knew a thing or two about extricating himself from a mess.
The author, despite his legendary intelligence, also sunk years of his life and stacks of cash into risky trips, questionable relationships, and craptacular businesses (including a years-long money-suck startup trying to invent the first typewriter, which ultimately failed).
Like most of us, Twain had to learn firsthand — time and time again — that it’s way easier to say “pass” before you get involved than it is to back out of a commitment later.
We’ve all been there at some point — whether it’s jumping into a job, a creative idea, a trip, a relationship, or a favor. An opportunity comes our way, we know deep down that we don’t want to be a part of it, but we can’t seem to decline when the costs of opting out are low. Or we discount the little voice in our head telling us that we aren’t quite sure it’s the right move.
The word “no” isn’t easy. For some people, it’s the hardest word to say. Saying “no” means asserting yourself, closing the door to an opportunity, and potentially disappointing or even hurting another person — all of which is very scary to our tribal, people-pleasing programming.
Of course, saying “no” once you’ve said “yes” is even harder. But we tend to forget that the person who will have to say no down the line is the same person saying yes today. We sell out our future selves to protect our current selves, digging ourselves in even deeper.
How much stress, resentment, and drama could we avoid if we just became friendly with “no?”
The answer, obviously, is a ton.
“No” is a skill we should all be working on. “No” is a mindset that can transform your life.
“No” is a superpower.
But that’s not what this article is about.
This article is about what to do if you’ve already said “yes,” you’re stuck in a situation you don’t want to be part of, and now you need to find a way out.
This article is about extricating yourself from commitments in a way that causes as little drama as possible — and even strengthens your relationships, and your sense of self, in the process.
This article is about how to say no after you’ve already said yes.
The first step, of course, is to…
Make sure you really want out — and why.
Before you nope out of a commitment, it’s crucial to take a moment to really consider your reasons for bailing.
Sometimes we want to uncommit because we truly can’t fulfill the obligation we’ve signed up for. There’s no way forward that doesn’t disappoint other people, so you need to step back.
But sometimes we want to bail because we’re temporarily overwhelmed, frustrated, or unhappy with one aspect of an obligation. Instead of figuring out the root causes of that stress and trying to work on those, it just feels easier to say goodbye to the commitment entirely.
I’ve been there more times than I can count. Whenever I have a strong urge to back out of a commitment, I find it’s often because I feel overwhelmed and out of control. The fantasy of bailing is a way to reassert control — even if it’s only in my mind — by reminding myself that I can always peace out if I want to.
But that doesn’t mean that backing out is necessarily the right answer. It just means that on some level my mind knows that something needs to change.
Maybe I need to resolve a conflict with someone involved in the project. Maybe I need to create better systems and habits to assert control and get my work done efficiently. Or maybe I need to take a step back and remember why I agreed to commit in the first place, so I can stay connected to my purpose.
In other cases, though, wanting to back out is, in fact, a sign that you should back out.
If no amount of planning and execution will help you get the work done well, then you’re probably just spread too thin. If you like everyone involved in the project and you’re still not keen to spend time with them, then you’re probably not able to give them your all. Or if your feelings about the commitment have fundamentally changed — you no longer feel emotionally invested in the goal, or your opinion of the people involved has taken a hit — then backing out is almost certainly the right thing to do.
Before you make a move, investigate your motivations for saying no.
Are you fantasizing about bailing so you can avoid doing the work or having a tough conversation?
Or are you feeling the need to leave because you’re unable to perform or your relationship with the situation has shifted?
I recommend taking some time to write down your reasons for wanting to leave, where they’re coming from, and what you could do specifically to address them. I also recommend talking this out with a couple of trusted friends or mentors to get additional perspectives.
As you do this exercise, be brutally honest. Don’t hold back. Do a full accounting of your reasons for leaving, and probe them to see what this desire to say no is really all about.
By the end of it, you’ll have a much better sense of your experience and a strong grasp on your reasons for wanting to quit. And you’ll almost certainly know the right move to make.
If it turns out that wanting to bail is actually a form of avoidance, then you might want to recommit to the project with a new plan or perspective.
For example, you could work with your collaborators to make the project more feasible, more efficient. You could schedule conversations to resolve any conflicts or points of confusion. You could carve out new responsibilities that will keep you motivated. You could create a few rituals to stay connected to the mission.
Whatever the solution is, put in the effort to create the changes that would make you want to stay. In other words, use your impulse to bail as a signal pointing to the problems that need to be addressed. Sometimes that’s the most valuable part of wanting to say no.
But if you discover that bailing really is the only option, then it’s time to consider a crucial variable.
Calculate the costs.
Every “no” has a cost.
It might be the person you let down, whether it’s a boss, a friend, a romantic partner, or even yourself.
It might be the opportunity you miss, whether it’s a chance to learn, grow or build a new connection.
Or it might be a hit to your reputation, your relationships, or your future prospects.
But some costs are greater than others. In a world where there’s no free lunch, you can’t say “no” to a commitment without paying in some form.
The question is: How high are those costs? And are they worth the upside of being free of the obligation?
Case Study: Hector’s Committee
Hector, a listener of the show, recently wrote me asking for advice on how to extricate himself from a tricky situation at his marketing agency.
After his last promotion, his boss had asked him to head up a new committee figuring out how to foster collaboration across different departments for six months — a problem the agency had been trying to solve for years.
Honored by the invitation and still riding high from his promotion, he quickly said yes, eager to prove to his boss that he was the man for the job.
But a month in, he realized that he had signed up for a whole other job in addition to his client-facing work. He didn’t realize how much work would go into the collateral duty — which he wasn’t being paid extra for — and that the new committee would affect his performance in his main job.
He knew he had to step down, but he wasn’t sure how to tell his boss without looking unreliable or ungrateful.
When I asked Hector to articulate the costs of declining the committee position, though, we discovered something really interesting.
The biggest cost, he said, was disappointing his boss, who was looking to him to solve an important problem that would unlock a ton of new revenue.
Another cost was missing out on the opportunity to gain crucial management skills, learn how the agency operates behind the scenes, and develop relationships with new colleagues.
And the last cost was closer to home — how Hector would feel about himself if he dropped out — which would last a lot longer than the six months he’d spend leading the committee.
I then asked Hector what his long-term goals were.
To be a senior executive at the agency, he immediately responded. To be great with clients. To come up with killer campaigns. To have a great network.
“And how do you plan on achieving those things?” I asked him.
He thought about that, then cracked a sheepish grin. “By taking opportunities like this, I guess.”
“So are the costs of backing out now worth it?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“Probably not,” he said after a moment. “Actually, they seem a lot lower now, compared to all these upsides. I don’t know why I was so fixated on the negative. Anyway, it’s only six months!”
After our conversation, Hector got a lot more disciplined about managing his client-facing work with his internal collaboration work.
He start carving out blocks of time to meet all of his commitments, built stronger relationships with his teammates to achieve the committee’s goals, and decided to give more time to work for the next six months. He also accepted that he would feel spread thin for a little while in order to achieve what he wanted.
But interestingly, his new discipline and surrender actually made him feel less overworked — even though he had never worked harder in his life.
Six months later, Hector gave a presentation to the agency’s senior executives with a summary of his recommendations for increasing collaboration across the firm.
They were so impressed that they immediately began implementing his ideas in every department. A few months after that, they offered him a new management role, overseeing accounts across divisions.
This time, Hector knew better than to jump right in. He asked for a week to think it over. He reflected on the benefits and costs of the new role, and really asked himself if he wanted this promotion.
The answer, he decided, was yes — but with a few expectations.
He went back to his bosses and told them what he could and couldn’t reasonably deliver in this new role, what kind of compensation he wanted, and what targets he felt he could actually hit.
They negotiated and agreed, and Hector took the job. He’s been in that role for several months now (apparently killing it), and he’s gearing up for another promotion this year.
All this, for a guy who wanted more than anything to ditch a career-defining opportunity.
When the Cost-Benefit Analysis Doesn’t Add Up
Hector’s story is a great example of deciding that the costs of bailing aren’t worth the “no.” More than that, it’s an amazing case study in using your reasons for bailing to get clear on what matters most to you — which, in the end, might mean that you stick with a commitment.
But a different person could have arrived at the opposite conclusion: that the costs of saying no, while very real, are absolutely worth the freedom.
For example, if Hector’s goal were to become a top creative consultant instead of a senior executive, or if his prospects within the agency weren’t so bright, or he had other obligations to consider — like a new child at home or a side hustle he wanted to grow — he might have decided that sticking with the new committee wasn’t worth it. And that would be totally fair.
He might’ve gone back to his boss, apologized for saying yes so quickly, and told him that he needed to focus on his clients or his family. He would’ve accepted his boss’ disappointment, made peace with the missed opportunities, and embraced his decision to prioritize his time and energy. He would’ve understood that the costs of sticking with the committee were too high, and the costs of ditching the committee were acceptable.
So I’m not saying that you should always double down on your commitments when you feel the impulse to back out. Sometimes that impulse is 100% correct, and you should listen to that voice.
But it is crucial to get super clear on what the costs are, either way.
What do you sacrifice by sticking with the commitment?
What do you miss out on by bailing on it?
How important are those costs to you personally?
If you really do the calculus on all that, you’ll feel much more secure that you’ve made the right call.
And part of this process is accepting that there will always be costs, no matter what. Life is all about tradeoffs. Our job is to choose the path that creates the fewest ones. Or rather, the right ones.
So if you go through this exercise and decide that saying no is actually the right move, great. Now you’re making the decision with eyes wide open, rather than acting on a conditioned response, as so many people do.
The next step is to deliver the message.
Be honest but kind.
Backing out after you’ve already committed is never smooth sailing. You’re bound to disappoint someone, disrupt some momentum, or create new problems. That’s just how it works.
But you can mitigate that friction by delivering your “no” in a thoughtful, strategic way.
Here’s a handy framework I’ve developed for telling someone you’re out once you already said you were in.
1. Frame the news.
Whenever I have to back out of a commitment, I like to share the headline in a way that creates as little stress as possible.
“So I wanted to chat with you,” I’ll usually begin, “to talk about my role on the board of your company” (to take just one recent example from my life).
“This might be a bit of a bummer,” I’ll continue, “but I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’ve decided that I can’t be the advisor you need right now.
“I’m disappointed too, but I know that being totally open with you is the right thing to do. And I actually think that it’ll allow you guys to function even better, because I won’t be half-assing it or dragging anybody down.”
Starting the conversation like that — with your own specifics, of course — is a great way to start the conversation. It doesn’t try to hide the ball. It doesn’t talk around the big reveal. It primes your audience to receive the news in the best possible way, and then delivers that news directly.
2. State your reasons.
Once you’ve delivered the punchline, take a moment to share your reasons for backing out.
“After looking at all my commitments and asking myself how I can be most useful,” you might say, “I’ve realized that I’m spread way too thin. I’m already hosting my own show, which is more than a full-time job, and I’m advising four other companies right now. I also just had my second baby, so all of my free time really needs to go to my wife and my family.”
(Again, the specifics will change from person to person. These are just a few of the reasons I’ve had recently to pull back on a few commitments.)
In my book, it’s essential to be honest at this point in the conversation. The other person deserves to know why you’re backing out. They might not need to hear every last concern you have about being involved, but you do owe them a fair explanation for your change of heart.
So don’t be too coy here. Be forthright, and be specific.
You might think you’re hurting the other person more by listing your reasons for saying no, but having been on the other side of this conversation, I can promise you that it’s quite the opposite. The more vague you are about your reasons, the more frustrating it is for the other person, and the higher the relationship cost of backing out becomes.
Of course, your audience matters a lot here. If you’re telling your boss that you need to bail on a project, you’ll need to be pretty damn specific and compelling about your reasons. If you’re telling some guy you met in line at Coffee Bean that you can’t keep giving him notes on his screenplay, you don’t owe him as detailed an explanation. “I’m sorry man, but I’m working on my own script and giving notes on a bunch of other ones right now” should suffice.
(That example was for my listeners in Los Angeles. I know y’all have at least one person you owe screenplay notes to right now. My condolences.)
This is another reason that it’s important to get clear on your reasons for backing out. The last thing you want to do is schedule this conversation, only to realize that your reasons aren’t as clear as you thought.
My advice: Imagine sitting across from the person you’re breaking the news to, and think about what reasons you would feel confident sharing. Work backward from there and articulate your reasons before you make the call or have the meeting. You won’t regret doing that prep.
3. Apologize, if appropriate.
Depending on the impact of your un-commitment, your audience might deserve an apology.
For example, if you’re backing out of planning your best friend’s bachelorette party and she was really counting on you to pull that off, then you probably owe her a sincere apology.
Similarly, if you’re telling your partner that you can’t go on a vacation you were planning, or you’re telling your boss that you can’t deliver the project you agreed to do, you probably owe them a more heartfelt “I’m sorry.” (And a more meaningful conversation about your reasons for backing out, how it will impact your expectations going forward, etc.).
But if you’re bailing on a camping trip with some people you met at a music festival a couple of months ago, or you’re backing out of a project with colleagues you no longer trust, you don’t need to apologize too profusely. Be kind, be courteous, but don’t torture yourself to make up for it.
That said, no matter the circumstances, saying “I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, and I hope I haven’t thrown too much of a wrench in the works” is a nice policy. You can’t go wrong being diplomatic and empathetic. Most people deserve that, even if the relationship has deteriorated.
4. Contribute to the solution.
The best apology, though, is finding a way to be helpful even as you’re bailing. This one move can make all the difference in how someone responds to your “no.”
For example, when I had to back out of serving on the board of that company, I recommended three other people I thought would make great advisors. The CEO scheduled calls with each of them and found an advisor she felt was perfect — even better than I was, in fact. Needless to say, I still have a great relationship with that CEO.
Finding a replacement for yourself is the most obvious way to mitigate the downside of dropping out. But there are many ways to be helpful.
You can share recommendations, resources, ideas. You can guide or advise the project from afar. You can connect the team with other people and places that might help. You can revisit the opportunity down the line and rejoin when your bandwidth changes. Or you can just support the team behind the scenes and be a friend to the project in general.
My advice is to brainstorm one or two concrete ways to be helpful to a project you’re dropping out of before you deliver the news.
If you can say, “I’m really sorry that I’m dropping out for these specific reasons, and I’m sure it’s a disappointment, but here’s the good news” — and then share a few ways that you know you can help — your “no” will go down a lot smoother. It might even be welcomed.
And you might even end up having a better relationship with the people involved than if you had stayed on board but half-assed the effort. Most people overlook this, but you can create a ton of value for people even while you “disappoint” them. You just have to be proactive about finding ways to be of service.
Which brings us to the next principle.
Maintain the relationship.
As we just saw, it’s possible to back out of a commitment and still preserve your relationships. That starts by being helpful on your way out, but it continues by staying close and continuing to invest in the team, project, or idea.
So after you un-commit, make an effort to check in with the people involved. Ask them how the goal or project is going. Listen for any hurdles or gaps they’re facing. Think up a few solutions or introductions that would address those challenges. Share insights and resources from similar projects. If appropriate, offer feedback and guidance.
Even if you can’t help in a concrete way, just offering your moral support is a powerful form of value. I’ve had phone calls that mostly consisted of me listening and helping the other person work through a challenge, and it was even more useful than solving the problem for them.
So don’t discount the power of just being there for someone after you part ways. Sometimes that’s the highest form of social capital you can offer.
Case Study: Ben’s Bachelor Party
Ryan, a listener of the show, once reached out to me for some advice on how to protect his friendship with his oldest friend Ben.
After signing up to plan Ben’s bachelor party — which wasn’t just a party, but a chance to celebrate Ben’s milestone and their long history as friends — Ryan realized that he actually couldn’t make good on his promise. He was up for a huge promotion at work, his mother was in and out of the hospital, and he was in the process of helping his girlfriend move across the country — much more than he could handle at one time.
Obviously, this put Ryan in the tough position of having to disappoint his best friend during the most important chapter of his life. What’s worse, Ryan had been super gung-ho about taking the reins when Ben first asked him to plan the weekend, and he was already far down the road.
(By the way, this might seem like low-stakes stuff compared to the other examples I’ve shared. At the end of the day, planning a rager for your homie might not seem as high-stakes as chairing a career-defining committee or deciding whether to serve on the board of a company.
But that doesn’t mean these social un-commitments don’t matter. They do. And the stakes of backing out after saying yes are often the highest in our personal lives.
Just think about breaking up with someone you’ve been seriously dating for a while, or opting out of a group vacation with your best friends, or telling your dad you can’t make his 60th birthday party after all. These calls can be gut-wrenching. And sometimes our loved ones’ feelings are more devastating than those of our colleagues. I know I’d rather disappoint a show sponsor than my own mom, for example. These conversations are never easy.)
We talked it out, and Ryan realized he had to step back. Then we brainstormed ways to mitigate the disappointment and still be a good friend to the groom.
So Ryan broke the news to Ben, using the framework above. He thanked him for asking him to play such a big role in his wedding, apologized sincerely for letting him down, and told him that Ty, another friend of theirs, was willing to take the reins.
Smartly, Ryan had already reached out to Ty and secured his replacement before telling Ben. That way, Ben got the bad news along with the solution in the same moment, which changed the whole tone of the conversation.
Then — crucially — Ryan told Ben that he was still going to be there for the bachelor party, and he was going to help Ty with the planning from a distance.
Along the way, Ryan worked with Ty on the itinerary, chimed in on specific activities, helped Ty find the perfect accommodations, and even secretly planned a spontaneous wine tasting, which he surprised Ben with in the middle of the weekend.
As you probably guessed, the weekend was a hit. Ben was really touched. Ty was thrilled to step up, and got even closer with Ben and Ryan in the process. And Ryan found a way to be there for his best friend, even if he couldn’t do everything he had initially promised.
But that’s only because he was honest with himself about what he could and couldn’t reasonably take on — and found ways to be of service even as he stepped back.
Taking the Long View
The beauty of relationships is that they span across specific goals and opportunities. A meaningful relationship — well-maintained, of course — will survive minor bumps in the road, like backing out of a commitment once you’ve already said yes.
When Hector stuck with the committee, for example, he wasn’t just saying yes to the opportunity. He was also prioritizing his relationship with his boss, which was far more important.
When I recommended other candidates for that advisor position, I wasn’t just trying to soften the blow of backing out, I was actively trying to be of service to that CEO.
And when Ryan helped with the bachelor party planning from afar, he wasn’t just making up for his mistake, he was consciously investing in his relationship with his best friend.
In all three cases, it wasn’t just the commitment that was at stake — it was the relationship that underpinned it.
Focusing on cultivating that relationship — whether you ultimately decide to stick with a commitment or back out of it — is always the right move.
So when it comes to these decisions, take the long view. Ask yourself which decisions would not only benefit you, but also serve the people you’re involved with. That approach will help you keep your eye on the real prize: your relationships and social capital.
Of course, the best way to preserve that social capital is by not making commitments you can’t actually keep in the first place. Which brings me to my last (and probably most important) point.
Develop your “no” game.
As we talked about earlier, saying no is one of the hardest things to do in life. Being honest about our interest and ability goes against all our programming from a young age. We’re taught to be agreeable; we want to be a team player. We don’t want to make waves or upset someone. So we tend to say “yes” to things we don’t can’t or don’t want to do, even when we know deep down we want to say no.”
Of course, we only end up backing ourselves into a corner, where the costs of saying “no” get higher and higher.
Then, when we finally do assert ourselves and back out, the conflict and awkwardness we tried so hard to avoid only get worse.
Or, knowing that it’s too late to back out, we stick with the commitment — but then we feel miserable, resentful, stuck. And we rarely do our best work.
Either way, nobody wins.
So the most important lesson here is to say “no” before you’re too far in.
Let’s call that “pulling a Mark Twain.” That means saying, “Sorry, but I have to pass” before you find yourself down the line having to go, “Yeah, about that thing I totally promised I’d do…”
But how do you know when to say no and when to say yes when an invitation comes your way?
And if you do need to say “no,” how do you deliver that message before you’re in too deep?
Here are some principles to help guide you.
Consider the upsides and downsides.
Before you agree to take something on, give yourself a good amount of time — whether it’s a few hours (for small commitments) or a few weeks or even a few months (for huge ones) — to really consider what’s at stake in your choice.
This exercise is very similar to the one in the “calculating the costs” section above, except from a very different (and much more fun) vantage.
1. Get super clear on the commitment.
- What do your partners in this project expect of you?
- What would success look like on a very practical level?
- What kind of time and energy investment will this opportunity require?
- What do you stand to gain from successfully pulling off this commitment?
- What will you have to do, change or acquire in order to fulfill your obligations?
Most importantly, ask yourself: Are those expectations you can (and want to) realistically meet?
If the answer is yes, then you’re willing and equipped to take on this commitment. If the answer is no, you already know what to do.
2. Identify the costs and risks.
- What would happen if the project went poorly due to your own efforts?
- If you backed out of this commitment down the road, what would be the impact on your relationships, your reputation, and your feelings about yourself?
- Would un-committing down the line affect your future prospects and opportunities?
- How much would you need to be involved?
Most importantly, ask yourself: If I said “yes” and then found out that I couldn’t really make good on my promise, what’s the worst-case scenario? Am I willing to tolerate that outcome?
If the answer is yes, it might be worth jumping in. But if the answer is definitely no, then I would seriously consider bowing out.
3. Do the calculus.
Most opportunities in life aren’t black and white. You’ll never consider an invitation that promises to be a hit with no risk, or that is guaranteed to be a disaster with no upside.
So part of your job at this stage is to weigh these different variables and assign the right weight to each one.
For example, the risk of compromising your relationships might not be that big of a deal in a workplace you plan to leave soon, on a trip with some people you only met a few months ago, or in a partnership with someone you don’t feel very strongly about.
Similarly, the upsides of pulling off a demanding initiative might be worth more when it comes to a career-defining project or a vacation with a partner you’re head over heels for.
And the emotional benefits and costs of saying yes are different for every person. To one person, making their bosses happy brings them a ton of gratification and meaning. To another person, investing time into a project or disappointing a colleague actually isn’t that stressful or worrisome.
Every person has a different calculus. This is more art than science. It requires you to understand yourself, how you show up in challenging situations, and what matters most to you. So take the time to get clear on that. That’s your job at this stage.
4. Deliver the message.
Declining an invitation or passing on an opportunity is almost identical to the script I shared for backing out once you’re already in — only way easier.
The same principles apply.
Frame the news by letting the person know that you’ve given the invitation a lot of thought, that they might be bummed, but that you want to be fair to everyone involved.
Then state your reasons for passing. Unlike the script for backing out once you’re already committed, you don’t need to go into a ton of depth about your reasons — the broad outlines will do. “I’m already committed to three other clients,” “I have two other trips I’m planning this year,” “I promised myself I’d make more time for my family the next few months” — these are all valid reasons for declining an invitation at the outset.
You probably don’t need to apologize profusely in this scenario, because — and this is the great part! — you haven’t done anything wrong. It might be nice to say, “I’m sorry I’m not your guy for this” or “I apologize if this is a letdown,” but I wouldn’t belabor the point. If anything, you’re doing the other person a favor by saying no upfront, before you’ve created a bunch of expectations.
What I would do, however, is be gracious.
“Thank you for inviting me to chair this committee,” you might say to your boss before you explain why you’re turning down. “I’m really honored you asked me to be your mentor,” you might say before you explain to a mentee that you’re spread too thin. “I really appreciate you trusting me with this problem,” you might say to a friend who’s asking for hours of your time.
Again, you can’t go wrong being grateful for the opportunities that come your way, even if you’re turning them down.
No matter what you decide, though, I still recommend finding ways to be helpful even when you stay out. That principle will never change. If you can — and if you want to, of course — try to find a couple of ways to add value to the person you’re turning down.
Being of service even when you say “no” isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also how you can generate social capital from an opportunity you’re not even taking — which is pretty damn cool, if you think about it.
And adding value when you’ve also done someone the favor of being honest about your time upfront — that usually pays even more dividends down the line.
The more you learn to say “no,” the more you’ll learn to say “yes” to the right opportunities. Being more selective also means you’ll do a better job at the things you do commit to — which tends to earn even more invitations and opportunities.
Weirdly enough, that often means having to say “no” more and more as your star rises.
So as you grow, keep this awareness alive. Learning to decline invitations is an ongoing talent. When invitations come your way, keep carving out the time to carefully consider them, continue interrogating your upsides and downsides, and stay willing to “upset” someone by saying no.
It might be tempting to start saying yes to every opportunity when more and more people want to collaborate with you. That’s a very common pitfall for high performers. But the most successful people I’ve interviewed all talk about how important it is to focus on a handful of things they can truly excel at. And that always — always — means saying no to many (if not most) of the opportunities that come their way.
So my final word of advice?
Become friendly with “no.”
Our neurology, our programming, and our culture have all trained us to think of saying “no” as a deeply risky move. But if you think about it, the truly risky move is saying “yes” to the wrong things.
We know this in our bones. We’ve been there more times than we can count. It’s always worse to back out once you’ve said yes than to say just stay out from the jump.
So embrace your inner Mark Twain. Cultivate that willingness. Embrace the healthy conflict of declining an invitation or passing on an opportunity you can’t or don’t want to take on.
You’re not doing wrong by anybody by being honest. Quite the opposite — you’re doing right by them. And by yourself.
[Featured photo by Adib Hussain]