Recently, I’ve experienced what it’s like to say no both to working with a coach and a potential new client. These two different sides of the same coin reminded me what a pivotal moment saying ‘no’ can be.

After all, the entrepreneurs I love to work with have huge hearts. They are kind, loving people who believe in possibility and potential. And if at all possible, want to avoid creating conflict. But together these factors can make saying “no” a challenge. Do you relate?

When you decide not to hire

Recently I was looking to hire a life coach to help me plan out my calendar and hold me accountable to creating time for days off, vacations, and other fun stuff. (It’s a thorny side effect of doing work I love so much!)

I had a phone consultation with someone who was referred to me to help with this. As we spoke and I shared what I was looking for, I knew pretty soon that we just truly weren’t connecting.

I had two options. I could just tell the person straight out what I knew to be true… or drag the call out to be a full half hour, and sneakily let myself off the hook with an ‘I’ll get back to you.”

I knew which one I would prefer if I was talking to a potential client. So I was honest. I said “I just don’t feel that I’m connecting with you.” We had the hard conversation, we both felt grateful to have said it, and moved on.

Turning a potential client away

On the flip side, I recall speaking to a potential client, who wanted to work with me as her coach. I asked her what she wanted to create in her business and she shared a lot about her background and the story that had brought her to where she was now. I redirected the conversation back to the question I had asked… what she wanted… and she continued with the history lesson. After a couple of attempts to steer the conversation, it was clear to me that we would not be a fit to work together.

It wasn’t that we didn’t have a connection. Far from it. I loved this woman! She had lived an incredible life and I knew she needed a platform to be heard, and to share that story more widely. I chose to give her space to tell her story on the call. But my work has a specific focus, and I just knew she wasn’t at a stage where working together would create results.

This is the point where it starts to feel tough to tell someone “You’re not a fit”. I hate that moment!

Saying no takes guts

We serve our clients best when we choose to only say “yes” to relationships which we know are for our highest good, whether as client or service provider.

As a coach, I’ve found that I have the best time when I’m working with clients who are ready to take best advantage of my skills. Over time we learn more and more how to identify the right fit. It seems obvious – yet it’s hard in practice to say to someone “I can’t help you”. It’s an uncomfortable conversation that can in the end leave you both feeling better.

Having the confidence to say “no” is a signal that you are serious about doing the work you’re mean to do. It creates space to focus on what you do want. Every time you say no, you are honoring that, and building your “truth muscle”.

So my challenge to you is: find somewhere you can say no this week. Honor your boundaries, and leave room for a true “yes” to arrive.

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