Saying No seems to be the hardest thing sometimes - not only to people asking things of you but also to yourself, and knowing where to divert your energy and time.
While saying a good ol’ No is so powerful, it can feel harsh at first. There are plenty of ways to say No in a softer way, as stepping stones to a full monty No. All it takes is practice!
Challenge: Practice saying No AT LEAST ONCE this week, using any of the tips below to help.
The main instances are when someone asks you for something, and when you ask something of yourself.
When someone asks for your time:
Response A: “I’m afraid I can’t.”
I’ve opted to using ‘I’m afraid’ instead of saying ‘I’m sorry’. It’s not something to apologise for, saying No. We make saying No into a bad thing by doing this. But, you can still feel remorseful for not being in a position to help. So, a softener like ‘I’m afraid’ works well.
Response B: “Not right now.”
Sometimes No means I can’t do this right now. These days we’re so used to everything being on demand, that we expect it of people too now. More often than not, it’s NEVER THAT URGENT that you need to put someone else’s tasks before your own. Pull out your diary and find out when you could help them/get it done by, and if they can’t wait for you, then revert to option A. They’ll have to find someone else.
When you ask something of yourself:
Sometimes we have too much on our to-do list, want to do everything or have too many goals on the go (this is my personal problem).
What is the most important? Asking yourself this when faced with a bunch of stuff, pick one thing and say No to the rest. Then when that’s done or in progress, rinse and repeat. Simple, yet effective.
2. Be realistic.
If you’re a dreamer like me, you have big things on your Bucket List but know that you haven’t got the time or energy to solve all the world’s problems. Emotions aside, the rational mind says that we will have more luck focusing our energy in one primary area, and doing great things there, than spreading ourselves thinly and doing just a little bit in every area. So, hard decisions need to be made. I call these ‘Little No’s. Pick 1 or 2 main areas to focus your energy and time, and say a Little No to the other areas. There will be times where you can contribute to these areas, and maybe things shift and change in the future. But for now, they are secondary to your main goals.
THE SECRET TO SAYING NO:
Whether you say No or not, what makes a No work is that you STICK TO YOUR NO. Don’t give in if you don't want to, especially at the beginning of your Saying No journey. You are setting a new standard for yourself; this is essentially a habit. How strong your No is, will depend on how YOU respond to your No just as much as the other person.
The more you stand by your No, and the more times you practice saying No, the easier it will get, I promise.