As a young person, you probably were taught to listen to and respect authority figures. This probably involved saying “yes” and not talking back. In general, culture teaches that to succeed, it’s important to play nice, complete tasks you’d rather not do, and work hard. All of these things usually have a positive connotation. Something to keep in mind, though: If you say “yes” all of the time as an adult, it can jeopardize your ability to succeed. In leadership, the most successful people are adept at saying “no.” Wondering why? Read on for several good reasons. 

1. Your Well-Being Is at Stake

If you get an inkling that saying yes would affect your health or peace of mind negatively, say no. This may be a completely intuitive decision, but gut feelings usually are a good indicator in this type of situation. Do you feel your neck and jaw tense up at the request? Examine why. It’s likely something to turn down. 

2. You’re On a Deadline

Being on a deadline should mean that you have blocked out time to work without distractions on something important. Therefore, other requests need to be turned down or put off to the side so you can meet your goal. Your tasks come first. 

3. You’re Asked To Do Something Unethical or Against Your Values

Saying yes in a situation like this will not only complicate your life but also negatively affect your integrity and (likely) your reputation. It will also deplete you, leaving you less effective as a leader. 

4. You’re Not In Alignment With the Request

Does the task requested of you line up with your big picture or goal? If not, pass it by. Stay away from projects that take a lot of time but don’t get you any closer to your desired outcomes. 

5. Your Work-Life Balance Would Be Affected

If you were to say yes, would it put your work-life balance out of whack? Would your relationships be affected, or would it stress you out in some other way? This is not the best use of your time as a leader. 

It takes confidence and practice to say no. It’s a skill that’s valuable to learn and put into practice though it’s not inherently easy. But to make strides in your life and career, it’s vital. Keep these tips in mind as you draw clearer boundaries in your life and work.