How easy is it for you to say “no” to requests that you do not want to do? For many, it isn't easy!
In today's fast-paced, activity-rich society, we are all juggling a lot of responsibilities. You believe that you are handling all of the items well, and nothing is falling yet. Then it happens: someone asks you to take on one more thing.
You feel a little panic or resentment brewing in the back of your mind, but habit forces those feelings down, and you begin to say “yes” to the request.
Hang on a minute! Don't say that just yet. There is another way for you to consider.
Life is Too Short to Say Yes to Things that You Dread
I get it. I'm a recovering people-pleaser. It is easy to get into the habit of just saying “yes.” But are you genuinely helping someone (or yourself) by replying yes all of the time?
Contrary to popular perception, it is OK to say “No.” Sometimes you can be doing a favor by saying no.
You Might Cause Unintentional Harm
When we say “yes” but want to say “no,” it sometimes results in us either doing a mediocre job or coming back later and saying we cannot help.
By saying “no” the nice way, you allow the person requesting an opportunity to find someone to help in more than name only.
You Could Be Setting Yourself Back by Saying “Yes”
When you say “yes” to things that are not your real priority, you take time away from focusing on what is essential for you and your goals. Scattered attention rarely delivers good results.
Four Ways To Say “No!” the Nice Way If You Are The Wrong Person for The Job
I Don't Have Any Experience With That.
Agreeing to help out shouldn't mean that you have to learn an entirely new set of skills. Offer to help out with something you already know how to do.
I'm Not the Most Qualified for the Job.
If you don't feel that you have adequate skills to take on a task, that's okay. It's better to admit your limitations upfront than feel overwhelmed down the road. If you know someone else that would be a better fit for the task, let the asker know.
I've Learned This Isn't My Strong Suit.
Another way of admitting your limitations. Did you know that makes you stronger? Knowing what is right for you to take on and what is not is a tremendous talent.
I Don't Enjoy That Kind of Work.
Who said you were supposed to enjoy your chores and assignments? Well, if you don't want the tasks or projects, why do them? Life isn't about drudgery and boredom.
Four Ways To Say “No!” the Nice Way If You Already Have Too Much on Your To-Do List
I Have Another Commitment.
It doesn't matter what the commitment is. It could be a meeting or a dentist appointment or a day in the park with your child. The point is, you are not available. You do not need to feel obligated to state what that commitment is either. 😉
I Can't But Let Me Refer You to Someone Who Can.
If you aren't available to help out, offer another qualified resource. Professionals do this all of the time when they refer a client to a colleague.
I Would Rather Decline than do a Mediocre Job.
Knowing that you aren't able to deliver a quality product, for whatever reason, is reason enough for turning down a request.
I'm Focusing on My (fill in the blank).
If you need to give more attention to another area of your life, say so. You get to decide where you want to put your attention and focus. Make sure you are giving priority to the right things in your life and business.
Two Things to Say When Your Reply is Not a Full “Yes” or a Full “No.”
I'd Be Happy to Help You Under These Conditions.
If you would legitimately like to say yes, but not under the conditions requested, make a counteroffer.
- I'd love to help you with that! The investment for my support is $XX,XXX.
- I'd be happy to help you, but I can only stay for an hour.
- This project sounds like a great project that I'd love to help you with, but I'm only available to help with X.
I'm Not Able to Help You With X, But I'd Be Happy to Help You With Y.
Sometimes you will be asked to support someone in an area you either don't want to do or are not qualified to do. Yet, you believe in the mission and are available to help. It's OK to make a counteroffer of support in a different area that you think might also be a good fit for the project.
- I don't think I'm a good fit to create your website, but I'd love to help you organize the fundraiser.
- Thank you for asking! I think what you are doing is fantastic. Would you be open to me suggesting different ways I could support you better?
Is Saying “No” Still Difficult? Get to the Root of the Issue
If, after thinking through these options, you are still feeling uncomfortable, a few different things might be going on:
You Might Need Practice Saying “No!”
Saying “No” after years of saying “Yes” may not come naturally at first, but it will become second nature with practice.
You Might Have a Case of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.
If you are, you are not alone! We often mindlessly go through the motions rather than thinking about what truly we want out of life. The sure way to eliminate FOMO is to clarify what you want and identify a plan to get there.
You Might Have a Deeper Aversion or Fear of Conflict or a Need to Please People or Wishy-Washy Boundaries.
Consider journaling about times where conflict was painful for you. Or a simple free-write journaling technique. BITS But If / Then / So:
“My client asked me to work on a weekend, and I don't want to. I feel resentful that he even asked! I communicated that I had set work hours. I want to tell him “no,” BUT IF I tell him “no,” I might upset him, and he will cancel our contract. THEN I would lose that income. SO it’s safer to stay the way I am.”
You can continue to drill down using BITS to figure out why you behave in a way that you don’t want to act. This journaling time is also an excellent opportunity to explore the truth of what you are telling yourself. Often the thoughts that we have in our BITS statements are not accurate.
Impostor Syndrome Might Be The Cause of Your Challenge Saying “No.”
Take a look at my post on Impostor Syndrome to decide if you could use some support in that area of your life. The post covers:
- What is Impostor Syndrome
- Impostor Syndrome is More Common Than You Might Think
- Signs and Symptoms of Impostor Syndrome
- You're Not Alone: People You May Recognize with Impostor Syndrome
- How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome
**Ready to remove what is standing in your way?**
If you'd like help figuring what blocks you have in your way and how to blast through them to your success, I can certainly help you with that. It starts by having a simple conversation to decide if we'd be a good fit to work together. Click here to get started.
Live Fully -- Love Openly -- Laugh Often -- Leverage Your Brilliance -- Connect Authentically -- Get Your Message Out -- Serve with Impact -- Prosper Everyday
I originally published portions of this article on 08-18-2005.