Do you find it difficult to say no to people? Perhaps it means you end up being busy, stressed, over-committed? Often when we struggle to say no to people it can leave us feeling used, put up-on, juggling too many things. Are you the one who ends up working late because you’ve said yes to others, yet you’re the one with more to do?
Are you saying yes, instead of no because you’re a people pleaser or because you end up feel guilty?
When you struggle to say no, look at what’s going on when you feel like this? What feeling or emotion comes up for you when people ask you do something? Perhaps there are past experiences and situations mean that you’ve learned it’s easier to say yes than no.
But the reality is that if we end up saying yes when we really don’t want to, don’t have time, or any other reason, then we end up feeling resentful, we’re repeatedly programming ourselves that our feelings, time, our priorities don’t matter. Are we really saying that we don’t matter? I hope not, but sometimes perhaps we are.
Consider the other situation – you say yes so many times that you end up worn out, then there’s really no chance of you saying yes to anything if you’ve made yourself poorly! Focus on the benefits of saying no.
When you hear me talk about boundaries – which can be a lot – what I say is that boundaries teach respect. So by having great boundaries and learning to say no means that we show people and ourselves that we are not a pushover, we treat ourselves respectfully too.
Apparently the Mayo clinic has done research that concludes that saying no can help to reduce your stress levels and increase your happiness.
How can you say no?
A key element is to ensure you’re concise. Too much waffle and they will pick holes in what you’re saying.
No excuses – you don’t really need to give an explanation, and often when there are excuses, you give people space to try and persuade you otherwise.
No is complete a sentence. Which I love. Sometimes that’s all you need. That’s pretty concise! But if you’re already feeling guilty or worrying about how No will be received, you’ll need a bit more help.
At work, if your colleague or boss asks you to do something extra. If you’re going to struggle then stick to the facts and point out, if I do this, then that will happen. What would you like me to work on first? What would you like to let slide from the deadlines? I used to do this all the time. Sometimes they forget all that you’re doing, or don’t stop to think about your timelines and deadlines and workload. All you’re doing is pointing it out and helping them to remember.
If you’re asked if you will do a baking for the school or some other thing – often they sound like a small thing, but reality is it’s not a 10 minute job.
I don’t have time and would hate to let you down, so I’ll have to say no.
If they try to persuade just repeat the same.
I just don’t have time. Sorry.
See how concise that is? No excuses.
You might be thinking “oh gosh, doesn’t anyone else every do these things” I get you. But don’t say it out loud. Then that’s the resentment showing through.
Keep it simple.
- No I can’t, I have something else arranged.
- No, I’ve got a prior commitment
- Sorry, I don’t have availability to fit that in
If you get asked to contribute to a charity event / sponsored thing at work and it feels like everyone is asking you right now then …
Thanks so much for asking me. I’ve already given to a few charities/sponsorships this month. I’ll bear this in mind for another time. Good luck with everything.
This doesn’t directly say no. So it’s a great one if you struggle with the word, but you’re still clear and leave no room for any persuasion or them to try to and re-negotiate.
Now, if you truly believe that these people will be upset with you, then they’re already not respecting you and your time and your values or limits. So really, that’s an indication about them, not you.
Anyone that gets upset, moody or is just expecting you to pick things up really isn’t bearing you in mind at all with this. You have a right to say no without having to explain all the time.
If all else fails, do the “I’ll get back to you:. Let me check that and let you know gives you the ability to get away from the situation. You can assess. Take deep breaths. Formulate your answer and deliver later, not too much later, when you’ve had a bit of space to practice saying no.
Give yourself permission to say no without the pressure, guilt or worry.
This might take practice. But it will get easier and you’ll feel so much more confident too. Confidence of anything comes with practice.