Are you a people pleaser? If so, there’s a good chance that saying no to people is a difficult task. Learning how to say no is a valuable skill to have because without it, you could potentially find a lot of your time and energy being spent on putting other purposes and people before yourself. Sometimes, too many commitments can drain you and leave you overwhelmed when all you have to do is master the art of using two little letters: N-O!
Here are nine things to keep in mind when saying no:
Don’t Feel Guilty
There’s no reason to feel bad about saying no, and more importantly, don’t feel the need to make up an excuse. Some people struggle with a fear of conflict, but it’s a misconception to think saying no means you’re being contentious. Other times, people don’t want to be perceived as rude to friends, coworkers, etc. But there’s nothing rude about being honest about the time you have to volunteer. Also, saying no doesn’t mean the requester will be angry or you will lose a friend, either.
Learn to Create Boundaries
It’s not realistic to say yes to everyone and volunteer time whenever people ask. Plus, people shouldn’t feel comfortable asking you for anything any time they want your help. Remind people that there’s an appropriate time, place and limit to their requests. Be sure to impress upon people that your time is valuable and limited! Don’t be afraid to say you have important things on your to-do list beyond the things you’re doing for others.
Consider the Time Commitment/Costs
When people ask for favors or help, be sure to ask the appropriate questions to discern whether you have the time and resources to give them. Be realistic when considering previous commitments and responsibilities. It’s easy to underestimate the investment required making new commitments.
Don’t Say Yes on the Spot
Don’t commit to help on the spot! It’s probably a good idea to follow up with a response after you’ve had time to give it more thought. Don’t immediately say yes without checking your calendar and thinking about your immediate to-do list. This may also save you from regretting an on-the-spot promise.
You Know What’s Best
Don’t let people coax you or guilt you into volunteering your time or help. Only you know if saying yes is the right answer for you and your family. Plus, you’re the only person with insight on your other responsibilities, your energy level, time, mental health and other commitments.
Consider Your Priorities
Before saying yes, consider who or what is most important in your life. Are your yeses getting in the way of family functions, friends or time to catch up on your work? If so, you may not be striking a healthy balance with all of your commitments. As you say yes to new tasks, don’t lose sight of what things or people take top priority in your life! And if you do say yes, be fully committed to the task.
Downtime is OK
Don’t feel as if you have to be a busy beaver every minute of every day! Saying no is an option. Remember, you’re not a slacker just because you have down time. Perhaps downtime gives you a chance to review your weekly calendar, clear your voicemail or add things to your new to-do list.
Saying No Gives Others a Chance to Say Yes
If you say no, remember you are giving someone else a chance to volunteer! Perhaps you can refer a friend or co-worker with the right expertise for a particular task. Or maybe someone else wants the chance to network, get more experience or have more work.
Find an Accountability Partner
If you have a full plate, it may be helpful to ask your spouse, roommate or friend to help keep you accountable for your commitments. Your accountability partner can remind you of your list of previous commitments or help you find a way to just say no!
Speaking of saying no, here’s a list of 10 acceptable ways to say NO:
- You know I’d do anything for you but…
- Right now is not a good time because…
- Maybe I can help next time.
- I know someone that might be a perfect fit for that.
- Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t.
- I’m learning to limit my commitments.
- I’m not able to set aside the time needed.
- My bandwidth is low, so I won’t be able to make it work.
- If only I could.
- It’s not feasible for me to take this on.
Hopefully the next time you are approached for help, you’ll remember these tips and alternatives for saying no. The good news is, once you’re comfortable turning people down, it’ll only get easier. Kiss your overcommitted days goodbye!