Today I’m tackling a little word with a lot of punch. This word causes adults to spiral and spin out of control thinking about how they’ll use it, and the impact it’ll have on others, when they use it. We’re going to talk about this punchy little word, the science behind it, and also give you a few steps to help you tackle it, because this may be the power punch your business needs.

Moment of transparency, I say this word everyday, multiple times a day to my kids. I don’t hesitate or second guess saying it because my mom wisdom, trumps our 4thgrader’s wisdom, who is sure she can jump from the trampoline and land in the pool while clearing a four foot fence in between the two. But to be fair, I do struggle every now and then when I have to use this word to set boundaries with my time, which ultimately affects my business outcomes.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, this powerful word that I’m talking about today is the word no. Have you ever asked yourself, “How in the world can two little letters pushed together be so dang complicated to use?” 

If you have challenges with saying no when it comes to putting yourself and your business first, then you’re not alone.

Let’s start with some science to understand this complicated little word. By now, you know 2SG loves the brain and science, and yes, there’s science behind why saying no is so, so hard. Why do we dread hearing it? Why do we hate speaking it? It’s easy to rattle it off to our kids, our husband, and even ourselves all the time but most would admit that saying no to clients, neighbors, friends, colleagues, bosses, and sometimes even strangers makes them a tad uncomfortable.

The hang up around this word is all in your head …  it really is.



Negative Bias

Jess and I talk about the brain all the time because it’s so much fun to learn about and it’s powerful beyond your imagination. Your brain will never be your cheerleader urging you on from the sidelines screaming you can do this, because your brain is hardwired to always default to the negative. This wiring is called Negative Bias.

What that means for you is that you could experience positives all day long and the one negative comment, review, or suggestion will linger, haunt, and resurface in your head at any moment. This loop is evergreen, meaning once that negative is launched it becomes readily available like an on demand movie.

Researchers can see that negatives (experiences, words, events) hurt and cause pain that physically show up in the brain, and that’s why we remember them and avoid them all the time. It’s your brain showing you a little love by trying to protect you. Just think of your brain as an overprotective mother living in your head, the intent is always good but … you get the idea.

What does this have to do with the word no and business?

Somewhere on this journey of life you’ve been told no, and hearing that word meant that you were denied something you really wanted, which created hurt, pain, sadness which created a negative bias in your brain. That negative bias now causes you to associate the word no with pain and hurt.

Just to be clear, the word itself doesn’t cause pain, but your brain now thinks negative thoughts, and therefore associates the word no with feeling sadness, pain, hurt, anger. Every time you think of saying no, or imagine hearing no, your brain starts freaking out. Literally! No joke because as we’ve mentioned before, you brain will always default to the negative.

Let’s walk through an example so you can see how this naturally works.

Situation: I submit my name to speak at an upcoming business conference.

Response: Thank you for your submission to be a speaker at our conference. At this time, we’ve chosen our list of speakers. We hope to keep you on our list as we begin planning for next year. (Btw, this is a nice way of saying no).

I think: I’m such a loser. I bet I wasn’t smart enough, or pretty enough and they never even considered me. Next year? No way am I throwing my name in again next year, I’m sure it’s all political and rigged anyway. Why would I put myself through this again?

I feel: hurt, disappointed, angry, and sad

This is your brain’s standard mode of operation and so the hijacking begins.

As humans beings we are wired to neither want to feel pain, nor inflict pain, so we are constantly striving to avoid both at all costs, even at the expense of doing what is best for ourselves, like saying no in order to run a successful business.

The words no and hurt have become synonymous in our society, though they’re not even close. Both are just words with very different meanings. By you saying no, it causes neither pain, nor joy to the recipient. The feelings around this word are simply generated by the sender’s and the receiver’s thoughts. You have your baggage and they have theirs.

Have you ever said yes to something that you immediately regretted, dreaded, and hated as soon as the word left your lips? And while yes is considered a positive word, it can cause just as much pain and hurt as saying no.  So it really is all in what we associate with a word.

It’s taken a lot of years and practice to learn two important skills, which are equally important, when it comes to using no in business: 1) You have to know when to say it 2) You have to know how to say it.

While these two skills may sound fairly straight forward and easy to use, mastering both skills takes commitment and work. There are plenty of boss mama business owners struggling to jump this monumental hurdle everyday and it’s wreaking havoc on their results.

Here are the 3 biggest reasons I think boss mama’s struggle with saying no

 1. Lack understanding in how the brain works

Your brain is the most amazing tool that you have in your toolbox and yet most of us have a basic understanding of it. The brain is kind of like my Mac, if you learned to harness half of what it can do, the sky is the limit.

 2. Not knowing their why

When you know your why, saying no becomes much easier. Why do you want to own/run a business? Why are you willing to sacrifice everyday in order to do all again tomorrow?  When you determine your why, it helps prioritize your day, your business, and your life which can help you make an objective, business decision vs. an emotional one.

Another why is digging deep and asking yourself, “why is saying no such a struggle for me?” 

Am I struggling to say no to clients who are difficult because I’m afraid I may not get another client?

Am I struggling with saying no to being the “go to mom” because I’m afraid people will think I don’t put my kids first?

Am I struggling to say no to volunteering because I think that’s what a good neighbor should do?                                                                                           

3. Waiting for permission

So many times we see women waiting on someone to grant them permission to do what’s needed in their business. If you need permission to say no to things that rob you and your business of productivity, time, and talents, Smart Girl we’re giving it to you. Permission granted! Don’t let your brain trick you into spiraling at the no, instead help it to envision the joy it will bring in saying yes to the right things.

If you’re struggling with saying no you’re not alone. First step is always asking for help. Make sure you have a mentor or confidante to tackle the tough scenarios with you and 2 Smart Girls can always lend a helping hand with strategies if you’re feeling stuck. 

Our motto is progress over perfection. 

Be sure and grab our Getting Comfortable with Saying No resource guide. It’ll guide you through a 6 Step process that I use when I’m struggling with the when and how to use no.

Until next time be present, be strong, be you!


P.S. Mark your calendar and join me on Facebook Live this Thursday @ 12:30 when we talk about getting comfortable with using no in our business.


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