OK, Nice Guys and Gals, you’ve decided it’s time to learn the art of saying no. Perhaps you’re a bit of a people-pleaser or perfectionist. You can absolutely learn how to say no and not feel bad about it.
Saying no is an essential form of self-care.
Saying no sets a boundary. Boundaries preserve our physical and emotional well-being and our relationships. Boundaries ensure that we are taking care of our own needs.
You’ve probably been told that “no” is a complete sentence; that’s all you need to say. Well, it’s not quite that simple, is it? I don’t know about you, but I’d feel rather rude if I just said “no” when asked to bake something for my kid’s brownie troop or it might be downright stupid to only say “no” when my boss asks me to take on a new project.
Let’s try some softer ways to say no:
- I’m sorry I’m busy.
- Thanks for thinking of me. I really wish I could.
- I’d love to, but I’m already overcommitted.
- Unfortunately, that’s not something I can do at this time.
- No thanks.
- I’m already booked.
- Maybe next time.
- I wish I could, but I just can’t.
- I don’t think I’m the right person to help with that.
- Sorry, I can’t help you this time.
- Sounds fun, but I’m not available.
- That’s not going to work for me.
A few other considerations:
- Be aware of your body language. Try to present a relaxed and warm expression.
- Don’t say “I’ll get back to you” when you know you really want to say “no”. This just drags it out and gives the asker hope that you’ll agree.
- If there is a lesser commitment or a piece of the request that you do want to take on, you can offer that as an alternative.
If you’re going to say no, even in a gentle way, you are going to need to first believe that you deserve to care of yourself first before committing your resources to meeting someone else’s needs.
You have limited resources. Saying “no” means you are saying “yes” to something else such as your own health, spending time with your children, reaching your own goals. We all deserve these things.
Benefits of saying no:
- It’s a reflection of your self-awareness and self-worth.
- Protects your physical and emotional health (more rested, improved mood)
- You spend time on what matters to you.
- Use your time, money and other resources wisely.
- It allows others the opportunity to participate.
- People respect an honest answer.
- It sets a good example.
Now it’s time to practice. Practice, practice, practice. If you’ve always been a yes man (or woman), people will need to adjust to your new boundaries. You may get some resistance. Refocus on why you are saying no and it will get easier.
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©2015 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.