Presenter(s):  Tasha Lutfi

Date / Time:  March 4, 2020 @ 9 am

Key Takeaways

Say no clearly, effectively & gracefully, with confidence, without justifying or apologizing. Say yes at the right moments. Gain tools to have difficult conversations.


The struggle of saying No is real. In Tasha’s 20 years in the design industry, saying Yes wasn’t always so great. As a woman of color, she learned to navigate white corporate America by practicing how to say things for people to take her seriously and understand her. Her experience comes from her own challenges.

The workshop focuses on the following:

  1. Why is it so hard to say No? What is going through our minds? What is compelling us to say yes?
  2. How to say No. It sounds easy but it needs practice to get better.
  3. The power of Yes. You can’t say No to everything, otherwise you’d miss out on great opportunities.

Early in our careers it is often the case to say Yes all the time, with entry level jobs trying to work our way up, or working with a client whose business you want to keep. As a team lead, it is challenging when you want to ensure future business engagement with your team after saying No. You might think that after saying No, others will wonder: Why are you here? What do you want to learn?

Tasha’s moment where she struggled to say No:

As an employee at Microsoft, she watched others being promoted while she did her job just as well, then was informed her team was reduced from 35 to just 4. When expressing her concern to management, she was told she’d have a new title as a liaison, and to just keep doing what she had been doing.

She struggled with what to say to the VP. Yes, because she was being told to do it? She said No. She instead created a workshop, started meditative work, and believing in herself, wrote her best email to the VP saying she would take a step back to reassess her creative journey. Tasha reset her life, applied to more rewarding positions, realized the power of saying No, and is now the Design Director of Outlook. What if she had said Yes?!

It is definitely a challenge to say No without seeing the outcome. Say No with firmness for it to be understood.

Examples of successful Nos:

Why say Yes when we want to say No:

  1. Fear

It is a natural emotion, where the top 6 fears are speaking in large groups, heights, bugs and insects, death, failure and success. Saying No brings fears of lost opportunities, lost management approval, disappointing others, someone else at the same level doing the same job but inferior in quality, or being not sure about saying No. Choice paralysis sets in – it is too hard to choose.

Give yourself time to feel the feels, and then move on to a more productive direction. In the end there is no wrong choice, just make a decision and stand by it.

  1. Guilt

Do the internal work of setting your priorities, knowing your core needs and balance the need of others with your own. Having your needs defined will help you navigate the requests that do not align with your core needs. Be open about your needs at work, people will respect your transparency and you will not need to be stretched thin.

Befriend someone who will be your ally and act as a sounding board for tough decisions. Make sure you understand what is being asked of you, that notes are being taken in meetings for future reference, and that you are clear about the priorities and capacity of your team. Save the guilt for when you have actually done something wrong and distinguish between the emotion and actual wrongdoing.

  1. Approval

Seeking approval is often foundational, going back to childhood experiences and cultural norms. Management will often support your No when you can demonstrate that it is the right choice.

The benefits of saying No:

  1. It is a reflection of your self-awareness and self-worth
  2. It protects your physical and emotional health
  3. You spend time on what matters to you
  4. You use your time, money and resources wisely
  5. It allows others the opportunity to participate
  6. People respect an honest answer
  7. It sets a good example