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The One Word You Need to Take Into 2024.

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There isn’t a word more fear-inducing than the two-letter one we try to avoid saying.


When it comes to refusal, boundaries, and, quite frankly, the truth of what we have time for and what we sincerely want, it can still feel like a slap in the face when we say it.

It brings up a lot of deeply conditioned fear we can all carry.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we won’t be asked again or passed over next time.

We’re afraid that if we say no, people won’t like us.

We’re afraid that if we say no, our approval rating will plummet.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we won’t look like a team player or get ahead.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we’ll look rigid, cold, or uninviting.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we’ll appear differently to bosses, teammates, and higher-ups.

We’re afraid that if we say no, you’ll dampen enthusiasm and hurt someone’s feelings.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we won’t get the affable yes-woman label people we love.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we’ll walk right into conflict or a hard conversation.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we will look selfish, not supportive.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we’ll expose our limitations instead of proving how capable we are.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we’ll be left out or miss out on relationships, opportunities, or promotions.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we might get rejected in return.

We’re afraid that if we say no, we’ll look like we’re no fun.

What you’ll notice about all of those fears is that they’re about how we look at other people.

Not saying no isn’t about us, it’s about putting others before us.

It’s giving them priority, which makes our choices, time, energy, and careers up to others.

How insane is that?

Here we are thinking that by saying yes all the time, we’re intentionally crafting our image as a team player, as a go-getter, as a yes-woman – “That Nancy is always game! Wow!”


When we find it hard to say, what ends up happening over time?

Never saying no erodes trust.

People can’t rely on your word as a people-pleaser. They can’t tell if you actually want to do it or are just saying you want to do it. It puts your relationships on thin ice.

Never saying no dilutes the quality of your energy.

You can’t give your best to a few focused things because you’re trying to spin 90 plates. It decreases your success across the board because everything is getting just a little bit of you. Bye, bye, potency.

Never saying no makes you weak.

We’re more afraid to look rigid than we are to be strong! The truth is that a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t deterred by every bouncing notification and google invite is magnetic and capable.

Never saying no stumps your growth.

If your fear of no is because of tough conflicts or conversations, you’re just never going to have them, grow from them or learn from them. Your relationships will remain shallow and you’re likely to fall into gossip to blow off the steam of everything you’re not expressing.

Never saying no teaches people how to treat you.

Do you want people to respect your time? Respect it first. Do you want people to understand your values? Stand unwaveringly by them. Do you want people to think of you when a big role comes up? Show them you’re not easily swayed by a million light breezes. How others treat you is a reflection of how you treat you.

I could go on and on, but I hope a few examples illustrate how much our allergy to no is costing us.

While we’re trying to control how people see us, we’re distracted from having control of our own lives.

Our own empowerment is what never saying no makes us forfeit.

It puts everyone else first and puts us last.

Have you ever met a leader who got to the top that way?


A strategic no is your new best friend.

The executive coach who can teach you how and hold you accountable for it?


Book a free 30-minute call today so we can start using your words to create the life you really want.

Pooja Dang is a Women’s Executive Leadership Coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving clients globally at companies such as Google, GoPro, Dropbox, and more. With over 15 years of experience in coaching, advising, and propelling women towards rapid career advancement and promotion, she specializes in high-impact workshops and dynamic 1:1 coaching, delivering breakthrough outcomes and accelerated change. Pooja has a proven track record of coaching women into the C-suite and is a trusted expert in growing executive presence, expanding influence, high-stakes negotiations, and leadership development. Using proven scientific strategies, transformative behavior tools, and a no-BS approach, Pooja is on a mission to empower more women to live confidently at the top of their game. Book your free consultation today. #ExecutiveCoach #LeadershipDevelopment #WomenInLeadership #BehaviorChange #CsuiteCoaching


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