It is hard to say no.
When you do you can feel selfish or guilty. When you say no you can feel as though you’re letting people down. A lot of times it can be easier to just say “yes” than deal with the disappointment and angst that you feel you may cause the other person.
- “It’s just one time”
- “It won’t take up too much time”
- “It’s for a good cause”
You may even think that it isn’t that big of a deal. But every time that you say “yes” when you want to say “no” you’re giving up a little piece of you. You’re ignoring what you feel in your heart and in your gut.
Now that we have established why it can be hard to say no, we need to figure out how to know when it is the right time to say no.
Trust Your Gut
After you say yes, notice how you feel. Naturally you’ll want to say yes — it feels good to be there for people when they need you. But when you say yes and shortly after you feel resentful or irritated, then you should have said no. When you feel that right away then you know that you didn’t say yes out of generosity but out of obligation … because you felt like you had to.
Feeling anxiety right after saying yes is a red flag that you should have said no. Pay attention to when you feel this way so you can be prepared the next time a choice must be made.
Avoid the Quick “Yes”
Once you feel that someone is going to ask you something that you may not be able to do start asking yourself some questions:
- Do I have time to do this?
- Are they trying to take advantage of my generosity?
- Is this in my (and everyone else’s) highest good?
Take a few deep breaths and get past the initial anxiety. If you aren’t sure how you feel about it, let the person know that you need to think about it and you will get back to them shortly.
Start With the “No” Piece of it
When you start with the no piece of it, then you’ve gotten the hard part out of the way. Make sure that you’re honest with the other person and don’t make up excuses.
Once you say no, try and keep your enthusiasm up. “I really wish I could make your party this weekend, how about a rain check?”
One of the best strategies for this we learned from best-selling author Steven Covey in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” Practice saying this so when it’s appropriate, you’ll be able to respond naturally: “I would love to, but I already have a previous commitment.”
Covey says you don’t need to defend or justify what that commitment is. It may mean you’ve made a commitment to take care of yourself, or spend time with your family. Only you need to know what that is, so you don’t need to offer an explanation.
It also can be a good idea to show some empathy when saying no. Something like “I know you were really counting on me for this, so I’m even more sorry that I can’t do that for you.”
What are the Benefits of Saying No?
- Lower your stress level
Saying “yes” when you want to say “no” causes stress. As you know, it is not the lone cause of stress but it is one that can be easily avoided.
- Eliminate toxic people
Saying “no” when you need to will help you get rid of some people in your life who may be taking advantage of you.
- Save some time
By saying no to things that you should, you’ll have more time to do the things that you love to do. Everyone has the same amount of time. There are only 24 hours in a day, but you can control what you do with those hours. By saying no, you’ll be able to follow your heart and create your own priorities.
What techniques do you use to help you say no? Do you think getting more comfortable saying no could have a positive impact on your life?
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Live on Purpose ... Change the World!
"Teach us love, compassion and honor ... that we may heal the Earth and heal each other." - Ojibwe