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Say No, Abeg

Please stop arguing with yourself, and book the first available flight away from yes, pronto.

Chidi Afulezi
Chidi Afulezi
3 min read
Say No, Abeg

Saying no is a skill. One that is honed from the ashes of being burnt so many times by saying yes even after your entire white, red, and grey cell population deployed executive order upon executive order to run as far away from yes as possible.

Scars aplenty, mi amiga. And mi amigo. Mi everyone.

Because of said scars, I have gotten quite good at saying no. As in NO.


  • Maybe next time.
  • Or not now, sorry.
  • I'm busy right now.
  • Let me take a rain check on that.
  • The Chief has me on lockdown, sorry.
  • Let me think about it.

Just no. As in nein. Mba. Non. No o. At all, at all.

I try not to be abrupt or cold about it of course, sometimes I just say, "Ah, I don't do that anymore." Or "Did you ask <hapless person who will never know that Chidi just jiu-jitsu'ed their name as a replacement for his no>". In my product work, we do "inceptions" where somehow somehow you flip it and make the person making the request to ghost you or decide the no for you.

But no.

Listen, for the preservation of your spiritual ginger, and preservation of your ability to look yourself in the mirror and not crack it with your forehead in pure disdain while brushing your teeth in the morning, the art of saying no should be should be tabata drilled into your psyche. How many times have you said yes and then rued the day you were born when you realized you just said your thirty first yes of the day, when your yes budget was only two?

Warren Buffet is a cold-blooded prioritizer, and his mantra of "really successful people say no to almost everything" inspired a piece I wrote called The Art of Saying No. It actually did alright, even got me a gig, which I should have said no to TBH. There is science to this too...the Eisenhower Matrix is baked in my head to sift thru things via the lenses of urgency and importance:

I did a workshop with my daughters on the matrix (imagine a guy workshopping his daughters, that's what they get for being fathered by an all knowing all powerful The Chidi).  And of course Numero Tres aka Just Turned 12 And I Want My Own Apartment started philoso-arguing with herself (she thought it was me she was arguing with) about how not urgent to me may be extremely life and death for her. I pondered heavily her deep stream of conscience for .0034 secs and then responded kindly to her.  

No, woman.

Bottomline is if it is not urgent or important, it is ghost. You know what, ok's a much better visual to articulate the art of saying no:

You know I love me some Liz and Mollie. They are like my personal Dora Milaje

It's not just requests from others o. Those $600 Airpod Max's? The Jordan 1 Retro High Shadows? The harsh tweet about that celebrity? The extra long eyelashes with the zebra stripes? Even though you believe wholeheartedly that their presence in your stash or your virtual foot print is extremely urgent and extremely important?

Say no, abeg.