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."



‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Ten “keys to reality” from a Nobel-winning physicist

To understand ourselves and our place in the universe, "we should have humility but also self-respect," Frank Wilczek writes in a new book.

Photo by Andy HYD on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In the spring of 1970, colleges across the country erupted with student protests in response to the Vietnam War and the National Guard's shooting of student demonstrators at Kent State University.
Keep reading Show less

This is your brain on political arguments

Debating is cognitively taxing but also important for the health of a democracy—provided it's face-to-face.

Credit: Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • New research at Yale identifies the brain regions that are affected when you're in disagreeable conversations.
  • Talking with someone you agree with harmonizes brain regions and is less energetically taxing.
  • The research involves face-to-face dialogues, not conversations on social media.
Keep reading Show less

Designer uses AI to bring 54 Roman emperors to life

It's hard to stop looking back and forth between these faces and the busts they came from.

Credit: Daniel Voshart
Technology & Innovation
  • A quarantine project gone wild produces the possibly realistic faces of ancient Roman rulers.
  • A designer worked with a machine learning app to produce the images.
  • It's impossible to know if they're accurate, but they sure look plausible.
Keep reading Show less

2020 ties for hottest year on record, says NASA and NOAA

In a joint briefing at the 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, NASA and NOAA revealed 2020's scorching climate data.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)
Surprising Science
  • 2020 is tied with 2016 for being globally the hottest year on record.
  • The year's hotspot included the Arctic, which is warming at three times the global mean.
  • The United States endured a record-breaking year for billion-dollar natural disasters.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast