The Koa Club Weekly News Bites

October 14, 2019


How to say no and not feel guilty about it

By: Susan Seah, Founder & CEO, The Koa Club

Last summer, I went to a meeting organized by folks in Seattle who wanted to start a trail running group. At the end of the meeting, I volunteered to be on their committee to start a trail running group for beginners. My friends who went with me thought I must have been mad to volunteer to do that when I already have so much on my plate at that time. They staged an informal intervention and insisted that I need to work on my inability to say no. I do appreciate that they were looking out for my interests, and yes, they are correct to some degree that I tend to say yes when I’m asked to do or help on something that is of interest to me, despite how busy I may be. It doesn’t mean I say yes to every request, but I do feel slightly guilty when I turn down a legitimate request. Saying no is hard, especially to someone whom you care about, respect or like. But sometimes it is necessary and there are ways to say no without feeling guilty:

  • Not making it personal. An ex-colleague once told me that he could not write a recommendation for me when I had asked him because he said he has a rule of never doing that for anyone. At first, I was a bit suspect of his excuse, thinking perhaps he secretly resented me, but when others asked him for a recommendation, he gave them the same exact excuse.  Eventually no one asked him to write a recommendation because they knew he would not do it, and that was the end result he had hoped for. If you create a policy or rule of saying no to any particular type of request (e.g. writing recommendations, loaning money, babysitting kids, etc.) and you apply it consistently to all who ask, then it won’t feel so personal when you say no.
  • Set your boundaries. Ever since I bought my backpacking gear a few years ago, a friend of mine would always ask to borrow that gear every summer for her own backpacking trips. No, not only the backpack, but also the tent, sleeping pad and cooking stove and eating utensils.  I did not mind loaning them to her the first time she asked because I understand that she may not want to invest in brand new gear unless she has first tried the activity to see if she liked it. She apparently loves backpacking now, and she kept asking to borrow all my gear for each of her trips. I started getting annoyed by her requests because it was not my intention to spend all the money on my new gear to share it with someone else. Eventually I told her that she could borrow a couple items one last time, but she needed to get her own gear because there was going to be too much wear and tear on my gear. She told me she understood my reasons and thanked me for letting her use my gear all those times. There is no animosity between us just because I said no. She still asks to borrow other things from me, just not my backpacking gear anymore, and I do not feel guilty about saying no to some of her requests. My takeaway is that some people will just keep asking, unless you are firm about telling them no.
  • Tell them you are going to think about it. There is no reason to feel pressured to respond to any request immediately. Saying you will give it some thought, that your answer will depend on whether you have any availability, or that your plate is full at the moment but you will certainly give it serious consideration, will buy you time to figure out if you really want to accept the request or have the bandwidth to do that. If you decide you have to say no, then say you have thought about it, would have loved to say yes but it is not feasible at this time given your bandwidth or capacity and that if anything changes on your end, you will let them know.  People understand these answers and would not think you are a bad or selfish person for saying no as long as you say it kindly.   

I know saying no can be hard sometimes but is an essential part of life.  Saying yes when you really want to say no may cause burnout, anger, frustration, and even passive aggressive behavior, which may result in straining the relationship between you and the requestor.  Good luck, and remember that sometimes you are really doing a favor for everyone involved when you do say no, so you should not feel guilty for pushing back.


Sharing a thought from Brad Krueger, Founder of Rainy Day Resilience ( and speaker at The Koa Club’s recent Follow My Lead Series event on Success over Luck:

Whens the last time you scanned your surroundings for business/career opportunities and risks? Achieving success beyond luck in life requires conscious effort. Take control by focusing your energy on accomplishments that take you where you want to go. Step by step, you’ll get there.”


Looking Seriously Good Series: Money + Style

By: Mellicia Marx, Founder, Poplin Style Direction (

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 5:30pm-7:30pm @ Downtown, 100 South King Street Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98104

$50 for members of The Koa Club, $75 fee for non-members

Light bites & wine provided

To register:

SPECIAL OFFER: Mellicia Marx is offering each participant who has purchased a ticket to this Money+Style event, a free one-hour styling session with her (valued at $160) at a mutually agreeable date/time.

How to know what to buy, what to save, what to change and what to keep the same. Do you need to break the bank to look and feel your best? How do you avoid purchasing items that just hang in your closet for years with the tags still on? And why does everyone mention having a tailor and yet it’s never clear what exactly you are tailoring and why? These are only a few of the questions answered during this useful and entertaining workshop. Find out how to buy strategically, when and how to sell pieces and how to ensure that you look like your authentic self and stay within your real-life budget. Personal Stylist and owner of Poplin Style Direction, Mellicia Marx, has worked with hundreds to women to help each one develop a strategy to attain and maintain an authentic personal style that flatters her frame, fits her lifestyle and makes her look and feel her best.

Socialize. Learn. Build

For additional information or questions, contact:

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