The Art of Saying No
Posted on June 30, 2010 by Bonnie Copeland, One of Thousands of Life Coaches on Noomii.
Are you constantly feeling overwhelmed, over worked and under appreciated? Perhaps its time to learn to say no.
Many of us have trouble saying no to the many, many requests we find ourselves getting everyday. Our lives are already very busy with jobs, family and occasionally needing some downtime. Our time and energy are at a premium! Are we about to say no to everything that comes our way? Of course not. So why is it we have so much trouble saying no to requests we either don’t want to participate in or really don’t have the time or energy for? More importantly what can we do about it?
Believe it or not, saying no is a problem for the majority of people for many reasons. It is one of the most common issues I help my clients with in my coaching practice. However, you can learn to take back control of your time. It may be uncomfortable at first but I promise it gets easier and you will be happier for it.
First, lets get one thing clear. No matter what the request, no matter who is requesting it, a request always has two answers: yes or no. If you are someone who always says yes, your efforts are probably not valued as much as they should be and your ‘yes’ is almost assumed. The first few times you say no will most likely come as a shock to those around you. That is OK.
For those of you who are squirming in your chairs about now wondering how you are going to upset the people around you take heart. Here are some tips for helping you learn to say no and to help you deal with the initial stress and worry.
Practice saying no. Small No’s can make you more comfortable when the time comes to deal with a more serious request.
Try pleasantly saying no to people such as the lady at the perfume counter. Say no to the person who asks if you’d like to have the free handout or try something new at the mall kiosk. Tell the telemarketer no, they may not have a moment of your time Instead of rushing, tell the waiter no, you are not ready to order yet.
You want to avoid saying yes because you feel cornered and obligated. Defer your answer to a later time..but specify when. A suggested response could be "I’m not sure if I can commit to that right now, let me get back to you by Tuesday. Just be sure that you do get back to whomever you need to in a timely manner. Defer your answer until you can check in with another party. This can be anyone from your boss, spouse, or even just your agenda book. "I need to check with my _____, let me get back to you on that. Try to be firm but polite with a slightly sympathetic tone. If you sound wishy washy the person asking is more likely to pursue your acceptance rather then accept your no. You do not need to ramble on about some excuse or apologize. You do not need to rationalize your reasons.
A straightforward no, I can’t, but thank you for thinking of me. If pressed a simple “it doesn’t fit with my schedule right now” is a perfectly good answer. Most people will accept this and be understanding. Be sincere. “I’d love to but..” sends the message that you think its a great project or idea but it just isn’t a good fit for you right now. If the person is being pushy or rude simply repeat that it doesn’t fit with your schedule right now and either walk away or change the subject. Know what your priorities are and value your own time. If you do not put value on it why would anyone else? Remember that just because you can actually fit something into your day does not mean you must. Every time you agree to do something you are giving up not only your time and energy, but you are giving up whatever else you might be doing during that time. For example more commitments means I may not get to the gym or spend time with my spouse or kids. What is most important to me?
Saying no to your boss. We can’t say no to this person right? Wrong. It’s not the saying no that is the problem its why you are saying no. If you take the time to explain to your boss that by taking on another piece of work, commitment or meeting you will be stretched too thin and this will put your productivity in jeopardy and possibly be compromising the work you already have, you are putting value on your work. If your boss still insists you take on this project ask for assistance to prioritize your tasks with a reminder that you can only do so much at once. If your focus is on having a strong performance, most likely your boss will be understanding.
As a society we are often under this misguided notion that we have to ‘do it all’. We can’t and shouldn’t try. It’s not healthy nor is it healthy for those around us. Saying yes to things we do not want to do or can’t do only causes resentment which leads to discomfort and distress. Saying no to those things we can’t or don’t want to do is something we need to learn. Just remember to be honest, sincere and polite. You might be looking for some assistance someday and will appreciate the same in kind!