Learning the Fine Art of Saying No

Fine Art of Saying No

Benefits of Saying No

Politely saying no is the first real step to stop over-committing and better prioritizing your time.

Here are just a few of the many benefits:

  • Reduce StressIn many instances, simply saying no goes a long way when it comes to reducing stress. Have you ever agreed to do something, only to feel the stress and pressure of actually getting it done? If so, you’re definitely not alone. It happens to everyone. No one is immune to the pressure of saying no.
    Adding undue stress to your life is unhealthy. It can make you feel physically ill and can often cause strain between you and the person you’re trying to help. Learning to say no is actually one of the easiest ways to reduce stress. It doesn’t cost anything. The only requirement is changing the way you look at things.
  • Save TimeThere are only so many hours in a day. Even the richest person in the world can’t buy more time. The good news is, even though your hours are limited, you’re in complete control of how you use them.
    Don’t let other people dictate how you spend your time, by expecting you to help them whenever they see fit. If they really appreciate you, they’ll understand why you can’t always help, at the drop of a hat. You need to make it clear that you have your own set of priorities and responsibilities.
  • Increase FocusIt doesn’t hurt to say yes to people, when the things they need assistance with are relative to your own goals. If it sparks your interest, it’s all the better! You might even have fun doing it.
    This actually helps you to increase the focus of your own life, which in turn helps you both professionally and in your personal life. Typically, the more focused you are, the easier it is to achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
  • Gain StrengthWhen you take the time to think about it, each time you say no to someone else, you’re actually saying yes to yourself. Chances are you’ll soon notice a boost in your self confidence level.
    In addition, nine times out of ten, you’ll gain the respect of the person who asked for your help. He or she may initially be unhappy with your answer, but your true friends, family and acquaintances typically won’t hold a grudge.
  • More EnergyAssisting with projects that you really don’t have time for, or have little interest in doing is a huge energy waster. It’s much more productive to put that same energy into something that interests you. You’ll feel better, be much happier and will be more productive in the long run.
Each time you say “no” to someone else, you’re actually saying “yes” to yourself. Click To Tweet

Why Saying No Gets You Ahead

Surprisingly, saying no can help many people achieve their goals.

Why is that?

It frees up time, which allows them to concentrate on themselves. Without having to worry about everyone else, it’s much easier for you to plan for your future. If this sounds good to you, there’s no better time to work on the task of comfortably saying no.

Saying no helps you to stay true to yourself and stick to your goals. It also reduces distractions, which sometimes cause you to get behind on the most important things in your life. For many people, learning to say no with conviction lessens any feeling of guilt they once felt when turning down a request.

When you learn to say no, you set boundaries for yourself and the people around you. The ability to do this is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Setting clear boundaries means that you’ll typically be presented with less intrusions and distractions, because others will know when they’re stepping over the line.

Some people will still try to take advantage of your helpful nature. However, by taking the time to set firm boundaries, you’ll eliminate some of the problem.

You can’t always be there for everyone. It’s physically impossible. You’d need more than 24 hours in the day to do everything that people want you to do. Create boundaries to help you save time when trying to decide whether you should volunteer to help. These help you to set limits ahead of time and make the decision-making process easier.

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Why People Resist Saying No

In general, people dislike telling others no. You’d think that it would be the easiest thing in the world to do. After all, most of us started saying no when we were two years old or younger.

It’s not like we don’t know how to say it… or do we?

There are many reasons why people resist saying no. The reasons are personal for each person and set of circumstances. However, here are a few of the more common reasons why people have a difficult time with this:

  • Desire to HelpKindhearted people are more inclined to want to help someone, when necessary. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with kindness. In fact, most people will tell you that the world needs more of it. However, don’t let people take advantage of your good nature. Remember, you’re only one person. You can’t help everyone, even though you’d like to.
  • Fear of ConflictNo one likes the thought of an uncomfortable confrontation, especially with people who are near and dear to you. Fear of conflict is another prime example of why people find it hard to say no. The possibility of being rejected or having to deal with negative consequences (sometime in the future) are just two examples of why you may not be able to resist the urge to help someone.
  • Burning BridgesIt’s never wise to burn your bridges. Some people take no as a sign of rejection. In this type of situation, a severed relationship is entirely possible although it doesn’t happen as often as you might think.
    Think twice before burning bridges. It may seem like a good idea at the time, especially if you’re dealing with animosity. However, once burned, bridges often take a long time to rebuild. Don’t take the chance! Cutting people out of your life should never be taken lightly.
    Rather than cut someone out completely or burn the bridge to the ground, use your boundaries to set limits for interaction or contact.
  • Lost OpportunitiesThe mere thought of lost opportunities is a concern for many people, especially when it comes to work-related or income-earning possibilities. The fear of losing a client or promotion can cause you to commit to something that you really don’t want to commit to.
    What you have to remember is that opportunities pop up when least expected. Just because you let one pass you by, doesn’t mean there isn’t another one waiting for you in the pipeline.
  • Afraid of Being RudeDepending on your age or cultural upbringing, you may feel as though saying no is rude. If this sounds like an issue that you’re constantly dealing with, now is a good time to attempt to change your way of thinking.
    It’s entirely possible to refuse to help someone in a kind manner. Simply be honest and relate the reason that prevents you from offering your assistance. Most people will understand your dilemma.

Having the Confidence to Say No

Typically, the more confidence you have, the easier it is to say no. If your psyche is in need of a little boost, consider these confidence-building tips:

  • Face Your FearsIt’s never easy to face your fears. However, when you do it successfully, there’s almost no better feeling. One of the biggest keys to accomplishing this is taking it one baby step at a time. It won’t happen overnight. However, every time you face your fears, your confidence level increases.
    In many cases, the old saying is true. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
  • Use Your ImaginationImagination is an amazing thing. It’s not that difficult to use yours to boost your confidence, which in turn makes it easier for you to tell someone no. Visualization is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
    For example, visualize that you’re going to an important meeting. Imagine yourself greeting the other attendees in a positive manner. Envision yourself smiling and enjoying the interaction. Watch the events unfolding in your mind, as you ask interesting questions and share informative answers. This is a very effective way to increase your self confidence.
    When you can visualize yourself being successful, being confident is just that much easier.
  • Improve Your Social SkillsImproving your social skills is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. This automatically helps you to sustain and improve your relationships, across the board.
    A few ways you can do this include learning about the basics of body language, discovering how NOT to make mistakes in conversation and the best ways to make a good impression.
    Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Don’t waste it!
  • Dress for SuccessIf someone tells you that their self confidence isn’t affected by their outward appearance, most notably by the way they dress, they’re probably not being completely truthful.
    Dressing for success is important for several reasons. It has the ability to put you in a better mood, give you an air of authority, make you look more professional and give you a competitive advantage… just to name a few.

All of these things help to boost your self confidence and make it less stressful to say no when you need to. Being confident makes you stronger and less afraid of the “fallout” which may occur, should you tell someone that you are unavailable to assist, even if it is a reasonable request.

Learning to Identify a Reasonable Request

Ask a dozen people to give you the definition of a “reasonable” request and you’ll probably get at least seven or eight different answers. Before you learn to identify this type of request, you have to come up with your own definition of the word.

There will be times when you can rule out if something is reasonable, right away. For example, if your child tells you that he or she wants a zebra for a pet, you automatically know that’s extremely unreasonable.

However, there are times when you have to consider all aspects of the request, before you decide how to proceed.

An example of this might be writing a report in 48 hours or less. Some people, who don’t have much on their calendar, might be able to achieve this goal quite easily.

Depending on the word count of the report and the person’s expertise, he or she could probably knock it out within that period and have time to spare.

On the other hand, someone with a busy schedule and limited knowledge on the subject would have a hard time completing the project on time.

With that being said, you can see why each request should be considered carefully. Examining the details helps you decide if the request is reasonable, given the circumstances, within your ability and in your best interest.

In the event that you’re initially unsure, sleep on it for at least 24 hours. You’ll probably be surprised by how clear everything seems after a proper night’s rest.

The Bottom Line

Remember, saying no does not make you a bad or selfish person. On the contrary, it generally makes you healthier and happier.

More importantly, saying no doesn’t mean you can’t help those who you really want to help. After all, everyone needs help at one time or another. It’s totally up to you!

Have you ever had a difficult time telling somebody that you can’t do something for them? How did it work out for you? Please share your experiences with saying “no” in the comments below.

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