I recently attended a conference where the speaker challenged us to interview 10 people in business who inspire us. The idea is to gather insight about their journey and glean wisdom from those who are a little further along on their business path.


The first person that came to mind was Susan Hyatt, a Master Certified Martha Beck Life Coach, who facilitated a great deal of my life coach training. She is very successful, extremely fabulous, and offers lots of things I’m building towards (like retreats and VIP coaching days).


When I got home, I sat down at my laptop to write her an e-mail. And then I froze.


“She’s too busy for this. She won’t even remember you. She’s been in O Mag. Who are you to even ask? Just go read her blog…”


The voice in my head was discouraging, to say the least. I was talking myself out of it before I even began.


So I took a deep breath, and thought to myself, “Self, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Maybe the point is to gain confidence by asking, even if it feels like too much.” Pumped from my little self-pep-talk, I got to typing.


It turns out I was right. There was more to it. Something as simple as sending a bold e-mail made me feel so invigorated, so alive! Regardless of the outcome, I felt proud that I found the courage to hit send.


Susan didn’t have time to do an interview with me, but she gave me something very special. The way she said no was so incredibly graceful that it felt like a warm hug. I felt seen, supported and encouraged by her response, even though she was turning me down.


Here’s what she wrote:

“Hayyyyy lovely!!

I am so excited that you took a BOLD step and “did the ask.”


Unfortunately, I am in the throws of finishing my book and am declining ALL interviews right now. It’s the only way.


But yes, there are so many podcasts and blogs on my website with that info! Look at the 2 hour interview with Nicole Antoinette. It’s posted on my blog last week.


So much love to you!”


So often, we think saying no will disappoint people. In an effort not to crush them, we say yes, we overburden ourselves, then we feel like crap. Everyone loses, because we end up being secretly annoyed at the people to whom we’re saying yes.


It turns out there is another way…


Here’s what I learned from my interaction with Susan:


1) It’s okay to ask for what you want. I don’t need to know that the other person will comply in order to make my request worthwhile. In this case, I stayed in my own business, and trusted that Susan is an adult who will say no if that’s what’s right for her.


2) It is possible to say no and be kind at the same time. Having boundaries doesn’t make you a jerk!


3) Apologies are not required. This is a huge one. Women apologize for everything! We apologize for asking questions, we apologize when someone else bumps into us, and we definitely apologize for doing what we want. “Sorry” was not required to make me feel better. Her kindness shone through even with her strong, clear response.


Seeing as though this is what I teach women, I was so grateful to be on the receiving end of this experience. I feel blessed to have another example of a kind-hearted “no.”


Even when we determine that we’re going to set a boundary, we struggle to find the words. We don’t quite know how to go about it. We haven’t learned the language, mainly because we’ve been taught that it’s not nice.


So let this be a shining example of how it can be done.


If you’d like to learn more about how to do this in your life, I’d love to see you at my upcoming workshop, How to Say No {Without Feeling Guilty}. We’ll be exploring how to stop “shoulding” on yourself, sensing your truth, and speaking up. For the Mississauga version (happening on Saturday, September 24th), you can sign up here (look for the workshop on the schedule, and click “Sign Up”). For the Downtown Toronto version (happening on Saturday, October 1st), you can get all the details & register here.


PS – see below for my original e-mail to Susan.


“Hey Susan!

First of all, you rock. Thank you for everything that you do. You inspire me daily to show up in the world, fully myself, serving and sharing and rockin’ it. I seriously feel so blessed to have crossed paths with you in my MBI training, and I absolutely love the way you’re repping feminism & empowerment & straight up happiness. Oh, and I love hearing about how your daughter is doing the same. 
Speaking of which, I’m reaching out to you with an open-hearted, expectation-free (but still hopeful) ask. I was at a conference last weekend, and one of the speakers challenged us to find 10 people who inspire us and interview them about their journey. You were the first person that popped into my mind since I’m so into all that you do, and hope to be as successful as you someday. No worries if you’re not into this – I get it. If you do happen to be open to the idea, I would be ever-so-grateful for 15 minutes of your time on Skype to ask you a few questions about your path.  
As I’m writing this, I feel the need to be honest. Part of me thinks I should just delete this and go read your blog, because it’s chock-full of goodness. But then part of me realizes that even sending you this e-mail is important – to do the thing that feels bold, even when I’m doubting myself. So, here I am & here it is. 
With gratitude (either way),