Learning to say, "No".

Stop beating around the bush and just say it.

“‘No’ is a full sentence.”

So why the hell is it so hard to say?!

Over the past 2 years of gaining a platform and becoming a Founder, I learned so many hard lessons that could have all been avoided if I just said, “no.” As my following grew and my platform gained popularity, so many people reached out and asked to get into different types of partnerships with me. Most of those partnerships were not going to benefit me at all. Some partnership propositions were scammy or literally only benefited the other party. I had people try and take advantage of me as a first time Founder, and even pressure me into saying yes to their propositions when they knew I wanted to say, “no”. Due to all of the negative experiences I had, I prayed no one would ask me for any sort of partnership because I was going to have to go through the process of having the stress and anxiety of needing to tell them, “no.”

I had trouble saying “no” to:

  1. Opportunities that I didn’t have time for because I was already stretched too thin. I would usually agree to anything that would contribute to the exposure of my community or business.

  2. Partnerships.

Pros and Cons of saying “yes” to every opportunity👍🏾👎🏾

When an opportunity presents itself, I personally think you should jump on it because you don’t know if an opportunity like that will ever cross your path again.

Lessons I’ve learned- only say “yes” if you have the bandwidth to say “yes”. I used to say “yes” to speaking opportunities when I really didn’t have the time for them. Whether I was speaking at a meetup or a conference, I knew the advantage was exposure. Exposure is extremely valuable when you’re trying to bring awareness to a cause or market your business. I was trying to do both, so I figured I’d speak on a topic that I’m knowledgeable in, teach people, and also bring awareness to my business all at the same time just by saying, “Hi, I’m Pariss- Founder of Black Tech Pipeline.”

^This mindset can land you in a great position, or a really bad one.

Don’t say yes before you consider prep time and your schedule.

-How much time will this opportunity take out of your schedule?

-How much time will you be able to dedicate to prepping between now and the day of?

-How much time can you realistically put in without burning yourself out?

The last thing you want to do is agree to something that’s actually going to become a burden. What could end up happening is that you don’t put in enough time, or energy for this opportunity and you end up unintentionally exposing that when it’s time. If you didn’t get enough prep or practice time, your audience can tell. You may not be presented that opportunity again because you didn’t meet expectations. Now you’ve wasted people’s time and possibly money, your name circulates in bad light, and that may tarnish your reputation.

Only say “yes” when it’s truly fitting and appropriate. Prioritize where your time goes, and that may mean saying “no” to certain opportunities over others. Saying “no” doesn’t have to be the end all, be all. You can say “no” in the context of meaning, “not right now, but possibly next time.”

Saying ‘no’ to partnerships🚫 🤝

This is…hard. I’ve actually lost a couple of people within my network due to how hard it was for me to be upfront and say “no” to partnerships right away. My approach to saying “no” was to drag people along until they got tired and just left me alone. I feared that saying “no” would lead to people being mad at me, which is pretty ridiculous for a few reasons:

  1. If someone gets upset with you for saying “no”, they aren’t in your best interest anyway. They’re just worried about themselves.

  2. If people are trying to partner with you, it’s because you have something that they don’t. You’re the one in control. Be confident in your response, because the ball is in your court. Saying no to them may not affect you because at the end of the day, you have whatever value they want.

I’m sure #2 sounds power trippy, but it’s not. Always be humble and speak to people with respect, but saying “no” is not disrespectful, nor is going on a power trip. It’s your right. If you don’t feel that something is the right move for you, don’t do it. You don’t need to give an explanation, you can just say, “No, thank you.” Regardless of where you are in the process, if nothing has been signed, you can say “no” at any given point. Is that annoying? Yes, especially if you’ve led people on to believe that you’re going to move forward with them. Reality is, at the end of the day, if a deal isn’t sealed, you’re entitled to change your mind.


-If something sounds off, it probably is. Your instincts will tell you everything (as well as your advisors if you have any). Of course getting into something that involves other people will always be scary and risky, but some risks can be really beneficial, while others can be detrimental. Seek advice from professionals on how to best protect yourself when it comes to doing business partnerships. If it’s not what you want or need, don’t entertain it.

-If possible, say “no” sooner than later, because again, the last thing you want to do is lead people on. Wasting peoples time can burn bridges, and once again, harm your reputation.

-Remember that partnerships are meant to benefit both parties, not just one. There are people who exist who may attempt to get as much out of you as they can without giving you anything valuable in return. Make sure partnerships are detailed and clear, and that you’re going to get actual value out of them. Value usually contributes to giving you a lot more of something that you already have, or exposure to something that you need in order to progress towards whatever goals you have.