Learning to say no hasn’t been easy for me. My desire for a life balance that works for me has motivated me to learn to say yes or no out of the freedom to choose and not the fear of the reactions of others.
My biggest hurdles in learning to say “No” are:
~ A desire to help. I am for the most part, a kindhearted person. I don’t want to turn someone away even if it means allowing my time to be eaten up. (This can build resentment).
~ Afraid of being rude. I was reared to believe that saying “No”, especially to the significant people in my life, could be considered rude.
~ Wanting to be agreeable. I don’t want to alienate myself from others because I’m not in agreement, thus I’m tempted to conform to status quo.
~ Fear of conflict. I sometimes fear the reactions of another if I reject their requests. I’d rather avoid confrontation.
~ Fear of limiting my opportunities. I feel concerned that saying no may limit me from being considered for something in the future.
~ Fear of burning bridges. Some people take “no” as a sign of rejection. I don’t want to sever relationships. I’ve learned that if someone won’t respect my “no”, they do not deserve my “yes”.
Learning how to say “no” can make all the difference in how it’s received. It is about respecting and valuing our time and space.
7 Simple Ways To Say “No”
1. “I am unable commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
This lets the person know my plate is full and this is something I am doing “for” myself (managing my stress/life balance) and not “to” them.
2. “I’m in the middle of something at the moment. Can we discuss it at a better time?”
This method is helpful to hold off the request and also, to allow me the time to consider if and when I can commit to it. It is important that I consider the feelings of others, but that doesn’t mean I should allow them to dictate my choices.
3. “I’d love to do this, but …”
This allows the person to know I like the idea but it just isn’t feasible for me at the moment.
4. “Let me think about it first and I’ll get back to you.”
This is the method I use when I really am interested but need to evaluate my schedule to see if it is truly doable. It is always easier to turn a “no” into a “yes” than to turn a “yes” into “no”.
5. “This doesn’t meet my needs now but I’ll be sure to keep you in mind.”
This is a considerate way to not lead someone on when I’m truly not interested at the moment. Here again, if there is even a slight level of interest I can easily turn “no” to “yes” if it becomes workable.
6. “I’m not the best person to help on this. Have you considered speaking to John/Jane?”
If I’m not qualified to help in the particular request, I try to point the other person to someone who may be able to assist them or continue to route them to the right person.
7. “No, I can’t.”
It’s easy to assume the worst case scenario when I need to say no. Sometimes straight to the point is the simplest and best method. Things usually work out for the best, at least for those who are willing to make the best of the way things work out.
Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Mentor, Writer, Wife & Mom