Learning How to Say No

We all know the feeling. You’re swamped in work, the dirty dishes are piling up in the sink and you’re running on two measly hours of sleep. Your friend calls you up and asks for a favour. Instead of listening to that desperate little voice screaming NO in your head, you find yourself grudgingly agreeing.

Second scenario: You treat yourself to a day of shopping and walk outside the mall”triumphant and swamped in bags”and a very cute man holding a clipboard asks you to chat for a couple minutes. Ten minutes later, you walk away, pockets even lighter after sponsoring a beached whale off the coast of somewhere-you-can’t-pronounce.

You’ve caved–again. What if you could turn down that request, that invite, and not feel so guilty about it afterward? Maybe you just want to help, you’re afraid of being rude, you run at the sight of conflict or you fear lost opportunities. Whatever your reason, we’ve compiled a short and sweet people-pleaser’s guide to saying no.

How to Say No

There are different approaches you can take. Choose the one that best suits you and opt for one of these suggestions from author and expert William Ury.

“I have another commitment.” Nobody can argue this one. Until human cloning is figured out, there’s no way you can help out without bailing on the other commitment.

“Maybe I can help you find someone who can.” You’re still dedicating time to the cause, which shows respect and concern without bogging you down.

“Not now.” Not only does this show that you’re still an option in the future, it’s a softer way of delivering the blow.

“I have a personal policy about …” This is your own fill-in-the-blank exercise. You’re putting the focus on a prior commitment to yourself without being guilted into a responsibility that you aren’t invested in (not that beached whales aren’t an entirely honorable cause).

“I don’t want to take on what I can’t fully commit to doing well.” This is a high-achiever’s go-to answer. Think of this as a yes”to higher standards.

At the end of the day, it’s about how you say no that affects the outcome. You’ve got to remember that you have priorities and needs too! Saying no is about valuing your time and space. Think about it this way: Almost every misguided yes is really a no to yourself.

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Tags: guide, guilty, saying no, Stress

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