Saying no is hard. These communication tips make it easy.

You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.

MICHELLE TILLIS LEDERMAN: "No" doesn't feel so good. We feel a little uncomfortable. We feel bad saying no. "No" to something is "yes" to something else. And that's the first thing you need to think about to give yourself permission to say no. My husband actually put a sticky note on my computer for about a year with the word "no" on it. And it really did give me permission to say no and to remember that that's allowed. So that's the first thing. Then you want to think about how to say no and how to say yes. Because yes and no are never one-word answers. My favorite on the no side is "no, but..." "No, not right now. No, but I could do this instead. No, but this person might be interested." I look to give a no with the opportunity for a yes later.

For example, somebody asked me to do a pro bono talk. Happy to do those things if they meet certain criteria. This criteria was driving two hours in rush hour to talk to 30 people. It wasn't going to meet that criteria. And I said, if you can get x number of people in the room, and we can do it during this time of day, then I'm happy to do it. So "No, but here's how you can get a yes" is a great way to enable somebody to feel OK and for you to feel OK and not want to avoid that extended relationship. So when we use a "no, but," we give them an opportunity for a "yes" down the road. But we also can use the "no, but" to help them find another way to get that help. No, but there's this great resource you may want to look into. No, but I do know somebody who's working on that. Let me ask if they might be interested in connecting. No, but. I might not be able to help you. But I'm happy to give you ideas on how you can get the help you're looking for.

Sometimes you want to and get to say yes. So we want to sometimes qualify our yes: "Yes, if..." Yes, if you can get this done for me. Or yes, if you can get this many people in the room. Or yes, if. It could be "yes, after." Yes, I'd love to get on the phone with you after I'm done with this big project that I'm working on, or after I get back from vacation. Just giving yourself a little breathing room in when and the timing of when that follow through will actually happen. So we have "yes, if." We have "yes, after." We could have "yes, with." Yes, with your assistance. Or yes, with another party. I'm happy to work on that. Yes, with some training. So "yes, if," "yes, after," "yes, with," or even "yes, when." And when could be, when I feel that I'm really ready to do that. Yes, when I have gotten that training that we talked about. "Yes, when." So all of these things help give you a little bit of space and manage the expectations of the follow through of that yes.

  • Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
  • Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
  • If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."



Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

Why we must teach students to solve big problems

The future of education and work will rely on teaching students deeper problem-solving skills.

Future of Learning
  • Asking kids 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' is a question that used to make sense, says Jaime Casap. But it not longer does; the nature of automation and artificial intelligence means future jobs are likely to shift and reform many times over.
  • Instead, educators should foster a culture of problem solving. Ask children: What problem do you want to solve? And what talents or passions do you have that can be the avenues by which you solve it?
  • "[T]he future of education starts on Monday and then Tuesday and then Wednesday and it's constant and consistent and it's always growing, always improving, and if we create that culture I think that would bring us a long way," Casap says.
Keep reading Show less

Allosaurus dabbled in cannibalism according to new fossil evidence

These Jurassic predators resorted to cannibalism when hit with hard times, according to a deliciously rare discovery.

Stephanie K. Drumheller et.al
Surprising Science
  • Rare fossil evidence of dinosaur cannibalism among the Allosaurus has been discovered.
  • Scientists analyzed dinosaur bones found in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado, paying special attention to bite marks that were present on 2,368 of the bones.
  • It's likely that the predatory carnivore only ate their already-dead peers during times when resources were scarce.
Keep reading Show less

What the world will look like in the year 250,002,018

This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now

On Pangaea Proxima, Lagos will be north of New York, and Cape Town close to Mexico City
Surprising Science

To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.

Keep reading Show less

Sooner or later we all face death. Will a sense of meaning help us?

As a doctor, I am reminded every day of the fragility of the human body, how closely mortality lurks just around the corner.

Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash
Personal Growth

'Despite all our medical advances,' my friend Jason used to quip, 'the mortality rate has remained constant – one per person.'

Keep reading Show less