Just say NO
We’ve all been there: someone asks something of you and you really want to say no, but end up saying yes because you think you’ll feel guilty if you refuse. Some people have a hard time saying no, but that inability to respect your own personal time and space can leave you overbooked, overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out when “yes” always slips out before “no” has a chance.
Saying yes to every request that comes your way may make you popular amongst your family and friends, but it can rob you of your energy, time and ability to enjoy the things you really want to do.
Happily, there are some simple and very polite ways to refuse invitations, work requests and other demands that are just too much for you to handle. The Mayo Clinic has some wonderful advice for those who just can’t seem to stop saying yes:
- Remember that saying no isn’t necessarily selfish. It simply means you’re concerned about honoring the commitments you’ve already made and don’t want to risk not being able to devote the kind of quality time those existing commitments deserve.
- Saying yes all the time can make you sick. When you’re overburdened and under too much stress you’re more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick. You owe it to yourself to think of your own health and well being too.
- Saying no can open doors for others. When you have to refuse, someone else will step up and step in—maybe someone who has never had the opportunity to do what was asked of you.
- Don’t say yes out of guilt. If you’d rather not do something, but feel guilty and obligated to say yes, you’ll be putting additional stress on yourself and will likely feel resentful if you do. Neither is good for you—and neither feels good.
- Stop saying yes so fast. You might eventually decide to agree to something, but give yourself a day or two to mull it over. That will give you time to weigh the pros and cons and determine if the request fits into your schedule.
- Be firm. When you’ve decided to say no, say no. Don’t say, “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not sure.” You don’t want to give false hope or leave the door open for continued prodding.
- Be brief and tell the truth. You don’t need to explain every single reason behind your decision to say no, but avoid lying. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member or co-worker. Try saying the following:
- I’m sorry, I can’t commit to this right now because I have other priorities that need my attention.
- Now just isn’t a good time for me. Maybe we can reconnect in a few days/weeks.
- I’d love to but… (this is a particularly gentle and encouraging way to say no, as long as you really would have loved to have done whatever it was that was asked of you).
- I’m not the best person to help you with this. Why don’t you try asking X?
- I can’t do this but I can… (this is a great way to avoid the full commitment but still help out in a way that’s more manageable for you).
There are obviously times when we just have no choice but to say yes, but always remember that your first responsibility is to yourself and your immediate family. It’s perfectly okay to say no to requests that will take you away from activities and responsibilities that you are already committed to and enjoy. Learning to say no with confidence will mean that your precious time is spent in the most meaningful and important way for you.
For more great advice on how to say no, visit WikiHow.
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