by Matt Malouf | June 26, 2017
Success is often built on a reflex habit of saying "yes" to opportunities or requests that come our way. But if you say "yes" and can't follow through because you don't have the time, then you inevitably let the person or team down.

Many business leaders agree to do extra work for their customers in order to be perceived as giving extra value, however, they often fail to deliver these extras in a timely fashion and forget to do the extra work altogether. Learning to say "no" is an important step to ensuring you don't overcommit, but it's easier said than done. If you struggle with this, here are five tips to help you say "no" with more confidence: 

Back-of-the-envelope pros and cons. Making a decision with information in front of you is always easier. By simply writing down the pros and cons of either a "yes" or "no" decision enables you to clearly see the implications of your decision. 

Actions speak louder than words. It is important that your actions are consistent with your words. If
you are constantly answering yes to things and not following through because you really should have said "no," then you will find yourself with more challenges that if you simply said "no" in the first place. Set yourself some clear rules and boundaries and stick to them. 

If you're not 100 percent committed to your answer, then ask for time. Often we are so busy that we are not 100 percent present when saying "yes" or "no." If you are unsure whether to answer "yes" or "no" to a request, then it is reasonable to ask for some time to rationalise your decision. You might use this time to check your schedule or chat with your team before committing to an outcome. 

Calculate the ROI. You must start to associate a real cost to everything you do. Your time is worth money and you need to ensure you are investing it for maximum return each day. When presented with an opportunity, simply calculate the hours you expect the task or project to take and multiply this by your hourly rate.

For example, you may have purchased a new piece of office furniture that need assembling. This may take you 1.5 hours to complete. If your hourly rate is $100, then your investment in building the new piece of furniture is $150. This task could be done by someone else within your team or perhaps you may have been able to get a handy man to come and assemble the furniture for between $30-$40 per hour, saving you time and money. This simple back-of-the-envelope calculation will make the decision easy. 

Share your reason for saying "no." Many of the people you start saying "no" to may not be used to this answer from you. They may feel rejected and this may strain the relationship. By simply sharing your reason for saying "no" (you simply have too much on, can't free up enough budget at the moment, etc.) you will generally get a more positive response and maintain strong working relationships. 

Matt Malouf is a speaker, business coach, and author of The Stop Doing List. For more information, visit