Being a Caring Person, While Still Having Boundaries

I recently received one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten—from someone I had to turn down.  

I had been asked by a friend to participate in a speaking engagement (something I love to do.)  In this case, with a few very big projects already on my plate, I hated to admit my limits, but I knew I had to say, “No”.

Here was my response to his inquiry:

“Thank you so much for thinking of me!  I would love to, but I have my nose to grindstone on a couple of projects and need to stay in my lane.  What kind of topic are you looking for?  I could recommend someone …”

But, it was his response afterward that blew me away.

He graciously accepted my decision.  He was thankful that I cared enough to make introductions to other potential speakers.  And he complimented me on having turned his request down gently but directly (he even made this compliment public on his blog).  


His reaction was the affirmation I needed to hear.  I knew then that I had made the right decision, and that I had the ability to say “no” in a caring way—even when I wanted to say “yes”.  

Staying in your own lane requires big focus.  When new opportunities come up, it’s hard not to automatically jump.  As studio owners, we are people-pleasers by nature and often have trouble saying no.  Then when we do say no, sometimes we drag our feet or do so too bluntly.  This can leave us feeling conflicted and the other person feeling rejected.

What I’ve learned is that saying no with a loving attitude helps you build healthy relationships and healthy boundaries.  Creating those boundaries for yourself also fuels your self-respect.  It turns into a positive cycle, protecting your time and also being more productive with it.

Here are some other recent ways I’ve had to say no while still showing that I care:

  • To my son’s school: “I can’t chaperone field trips this year, but I can make a donation to your school supply fund.”
  • To an employee: “I can’t offer you a raise right now, but I can offer you a bonus structure for new enrollment.”
  • To a client:  “I can’t discount this price because of its high value, but I can help create a payment plan for you.”

As I reflect on these experiences, the underlying meaning couldn’t be clearer: demonstrating an attitude of love—even when turning someone down—can sometimes be the best way to serve others.  In the process, you can earn their respect and build your own confidence as an owner.

And so I sign off this issue of Misty Minute as the author of “One Small Yes” who is learning to say “No”.  🙂