The Cost of Not Being Able to Say No by Violet Dhu

A lot of people have difficulty saying No. In fact, many will agree that it is easier to just say yes, in most situations. And this “saying yes” happens on a daily basis in many workplace environments.

There are various reasons why people say Yes when they really want to say No. It might be because they want to be liked at their place of work, or they want to be seen as agreeable by their colleagues, or because they want to please the people around them.

Although saying yes does help increase your likeability, help you be seen as helpful, and enhance your reputation as a go-getter, there are costs to not being able to say no. And these costs may impact yourself, your team, and your organisation. 

The cost of not being able to say no to Yourself

When you always say yes to every request from your colleagues, you will end up being overloaded with work until you become burnt out. Before you say yes, you need to think about your current workload and upcoming tasks or schedules and decide whether or not you can still take on additional tasks. Overload, burnout, and fatigue are common themes in today’s workplaces and not being able to say no contributes to this.

The cost of not being able to say no to Your Team

Saying yes and agreeing to everything you are asked to do, does not send the correct message to your team. It may place unrealistic expectations on your team. It will reduce their ability to say no when they need to. This may result in a loss of trust in you as a manager in that you will stand up for them.

They may be reluctant to speak up during team discussions or ask for your opinion or feedback because they know you will instantly agree. There are those managers who surround themselves with yes men and yes women and this stifles creativity and innovation because no one will say no and offer an alternative view.

The cost of not being able to say no to Your Organisation

As the organisation grows and develops, new tasks and requests may no longer align with the aims of the organisation. And when you always say yes without stopping to really think about the request, it’s easy to miss that the company is moving in the wrong direction. 

Another impact of not being able to say no is that the organisation may end up struggling to meet targets and deadlines. It’s never a good idea to always say yes to every customer request simply because you want to please them. If you really want to impress your customers, focus on providing high-quality products and services that are within your core business or remit. 


Saying no in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging. It is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. And when everyone in the organisation masters the skill of saying no, it can help lead your organisation to success. 

If you would like to learn more about the skill of how to say no in the workplace, Violet is running an online seminar on How To Say No on 28 March 2022.

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