Learn to Say “No” the Greg McKeown Way


One aspect of being able to manage your time well is knowing when to say “No”

Yesterday my business partner and I had a very exciting hangout.

Our theme as you know this month is Time Management and Productivity.

There are things that we choose to do everyday that slow down production and make us feel overwhelmed and useless!

Well Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is a book that I have read and will be re-reading very soon.


Because it’s one of those books that TEACHES.

It’s not a “feel good” book.

It’s a book of practical advice.

Yesterday we mentioned a few of Greg McKeown’s methods.

One in particular is the art of saying “No”.


[video_player type=”youtube” youtube_hide_controls=”Y” youtube_remove_logo=”Y” width=”560″ height=”315″ align=”center” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”20″]aHR0cHM6Ly95b3V0dS5iZS81NE1xYnpxLXNEVQ==[/video_player]

The my favorite method I mentioned on the video above somewhere around the 23rd minute.

When I used that one on my boss they were just blown away!

But saying No without saying No is an art.

In our day Greg McKeown says email and the internet make it easier to say no.

Have you ever wanted to say no to a request but felt like if you did you’ll be missing out on something?

Have you ever felt regret immediately after saying “Yes” to someone to do something they asked?

Have you ever wished that you had another 5 hours in the day to take care of YOUR things because you said yes to everyone else?

 My Early Experience in Not Saying “No”

Well I learned this lesson the hard way back in primary school.

My teacher had to call my parents in to discuss the “problem”.

My teacher said in no uncertain terms – Hilary needs to learn how to do her work first then she can help others.

I was put in detention because I did not finish my assignment during the class period and

it appeared to the teaching that I was talking with everyone in the class rather than doing my work.

What she didn’t know was that I was helping them.

This is what she discovered when I went to detention.

I finished my work so quickly in detention she wanted to know why I wasn’t able to finish it in class.

I told her I was helping everyone else.


No back in primary school I didn’t have Greg McKeown’s book to teach me how to say “No” gracefully.

So I immediately became a person that no one liked.

When my friends asked me to help them out I would just say, “No I can’t” and leave it at that.


Well thank goodness I grew up and read Greg McKeown’s book.

You see McKeown says you have to say No without ever using the words no.

In Chapter 11 of Greg McKeown’s  Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less he speaks of rather than saying “no”

focus on the trade off (another concept he elaborates on earlier in the book).


Greg McKeown’s 8 Ways of Saying “No” without saying “No”

1. The Awkward Pause – 

Have you ever just looked at someone like it was a stare down competition after they asked you to do something.

I know it may sound cruel. I think it a little hilarious.

It’s almost like you’re telling them without saying a one, “Now you think carefully before you ask me to do that because what you’re asking is alot and you DAMN well know I can’t do it, so ……..”

I’m sorry if I have you rolling off your chair.

You see in Trinidad this works so well that people are getting immune to it. Needless to say with the right person it can work!

2. The soft “no” (or the “no but”) 

As Greg McKeown will point out the best place to practice this is email! You’re basically delaying their request.

People always want you to drop what you’re doing right now to do what they want you to do.

So you can just say, “Well I’m a little busy right now doing X but tomorrow I can help you with Y”.

Obviously that’s not what they want to hear, so they leave you alone and go find someone else to do their bidding or they do it themselves.

Here’s the kicker! If they do show up tomorrow – IT WASN’T THAT IMPORTANT!!!!

3. Let me check my calendar and get back to you! 

My second favorite no method. If you’ve ever used this before you know how much time this saves.

Even the “request” conversation gets shorter. You’re telling them off the bat! Look I’m a busy person and if you’re not on my calendar then you’re not important.

4. Use e-mail automatic replies. 

Especially if you’re working on big projects you need to just put you head in the sand and shut everything out! (except family of course).

5. (this is my favorite!) You have to just watch the video to see. 


I’ll leave the last three for you to dig up from Chapter 11.

You will probably loose the essence of the book if I were to spill all the beans right here.

No. 5 my favorite works particularly well for those what have bosses! Have a look


Now go out there and start using some of these No methods and claim some time back to your day.


Have a great one!


I’m Hilary De Freitas
Online Marketer, Operational Nerd and Mom
I invite you join my newsletter and you will learn how to continue to grow your business online.
My goal here is to help you learn how to market and build a successful business online.
Join today and get one free 30 minute Marketing Training with me then join my mastermind to learn more


Hilary De Freitas is a wife, mother, engineer and marketer. She is dedicated to helping mothers build a successful online business from their passions, so that they don't have to choose between career and family. Hilary has been involved in network marketing, affiliate marketing and digital marketing consulting for the past 10 years. Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

    7 replies to "Learn to Say “No” the Greg McKeown Way"

    • Jeff Beeman

      Hillary about that work you needed help with.. ummmm.. well … I need to check my calender and get back with you. 🙂

      Your Blog Posts are looking great by the way! Good Job!

      • Hilary

        Hahahahah! Yes Please get back to me.
        Working hard 🙂

    • Ruthanne

      Thanks for the great tips on saying no. #3 is one I use regularly. I find purposely leaving my calendar at home helps a lot with this.

    • Ken Weliever

      Very good practical suggestions, Hillary! I’ll have to get the book. I did have a little bit of trouble of understanding all the conversation on the video…but that’s just me! 🙂

      • Hilary

        Hi Ken, Thanks for your comment. I know when we get excited on these hangouts our accents can muddle things up a bit. Maybe I’ll do another one with just that part and make it clearer. Thanks for the tip.

    • This is such a great list of ways to say no. ONe of the hardest things to do! Thanks for sharing.

      • Hilary

        Yes Vicki. Sometimes saying no is so hard, but it can help so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.