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How to say NO nicely and why cop outs back fire

It is possible to be truthful, kind to yourself and others and still say NO.

By the way I don’t always say NO, I have just made it a habit to check in with myself to make sure I am only saying YES to things that I can manage to deliver well and keep my own balance of health, family and work.

In my last blog “Just say No” I spoke about the freedom and joy saying no more often can bring, I promised to write another one on ways to say NO to the things that drain your energy, time and take you away from the things that matter to you.

I wanted to follow that up with some practical ways you can practice this more in your life at work and at home.

In my experience some of the reasons people (me included) say YES way too much are:

  • Afraid of what people think of them if they don’t
  • Want to be liked (people pleasing)
  • Feel guilty for saying no
  • Value others more than themselves
  • Fear of letting someone down

None of those things are bad things in moderation, but when saying YES too much takes over your life and leads you to exhaustion, overwhelm, when you start to miss out on the relationships closest to you because you have too much on your plate for other people, then it is perhaps time to start saying NO more often.

TIP: Cop outs lead to more pain, and you only have to deal with it later, some cop outs may sound like:

  • I will think about it, but you never get back to them, you leave them hanging
  • I might be interested, but you have no intention of being interested so you just have to say NO later and you drag it out for both sides
  • Maybe, when there is no maybe, you are just avoiding saying NO, ditto above

Making up a lie as to why you can’t, just say NO, it is kinder and living with integrity frees you from more guilt.

It is always better to be compassionately honest, the other person will appreciate it even if NO is not what they wanted to hear.

Saying NO strategy ideas (this is what works for me and others I have worked with, feel free to pick and choose your own strategy)

Extra requests on time:

When someone asks you to do something, more work, a new project, volunteer to contribute for something or run an event…etc, but you know you have heaps on your plate.

First thing I do, is I take a breath and ask myself these questions:

  • Will saying YES mean that other things will suffer including my health and energy?
  • Could this be done by someone else (not always my responsibility to find that person either)?
  • Am I only saying YES because I think I ‘should’ or are afraid of what people will think if I say NO?

Give yourself time to process and give the answer that honours your time and energy best

If I feel my issue is saying YES because I am on the spot, I may ask nicely to think about it and get back to them, BUT I will always get back to them, otherwise you risk appearing rude and unreliable.

If I need to get back to them to say NO then I will do the following:

When thinking about how to land something with someone, I try to think about how I would like it said to me, that mostly helps – unless you are a ‘blunt’ person and ok with people being blunt, remember not everyone is OK with that, you may need to learn to put a little fluff around the word for relationship sake.

My goal is to clearly decline, so there is no maybe, I might be keen, if I know I am not, then I just have to deal with it later again and give false hope, and to maintain a good relationship with the person ie. Not cause offense, pain or too much inconvenience.

The first few examples have no explanation, you can learn to say NO without big justification, the person probably just wants a yes or a no anyway, not your life story, but if you are starting out on this journey it may be easier for you to practice by adding a small line at the end, it is for your benefit really, just to ease your guilt and help you to believe you have the right to say NO, but it can work like a ‘crutch’ for a while, so you can become more familiar with saying NO.

  • Thank you for thinking of me for this XXXXXX unfortunately I am unable to take this on for you.
  • I am flattered you thought of asking me, thanks, however I can’t fit it in right now.
  • I will not be able to complete this in the time frame you’re are asking, sorry.

A bit more fluff for those who need it:

  • Thank you for thinking of me for this XXXXXX unfortunately I am unable to take this on for you, due to family/work commitments.
  • I am flattered you thought of asking me, thanks, however I can’t fit it in right now. My diary is full, and I wouldn’t do the project justice.
  • My plate is really quite full right now, I would prefer someone else took this on, so it gets done in the time frame you are asking.

General lead ins for saying NO – the lead in is the way to start the sentence

  • Thanks for thinking of me, however…..
  • I appreciate you have a gap, however
  • Thank you for asking, but
  • Your charity sounds fantastic, however
  • Thank you for taking the time to explain to me, however/but

Followed by ways to say NO nicely

  • I am unable to fit it in right now
  • I am unable to take this on for you
  • No thank you
  • Thank you, but no
  • I donate to other charities and am at my capacity
  • I am at capacity right now sorry
  • Sorry but I am unable to help you right now
  • Sorry I can’t help you

This topic can grow, and sometimes lead to people understanding they have a bigger issue with setting boundaries and taking care of themselves than just saying NO more often.

As a communication coach I help people with these strategies, I would be happy to answer any questions you have, feel free to get in touch.

Be brave, be honest, and honour yourself

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net


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Just say NO.

Saying NO can be the kindest thing you do for someone else, and yourself.

We often think saying YES to every request, on our time, money, resources and even our minds is being kind. I learned a long time ago, that being ‘kind’ to everyone else was leaving me exhausted, overwhelmed and sometimes resentful, and I wasn’t be kind to myself.

I used to attach so much guilt to saying NO, I would often find myself in situations where I was burned out, exhausted, resentful and just plain overwhelmed. After a few of exhausting years, I realised I needed to get some stuff off my plate, I needed to breathe and declutter my schedule so I could give myself some time to just be me, look after me.

I started to learn how to say NO, nicely, it wasn’t always ‘without guilt’ or that nagging feeling I was letting someone down, but I still did it. The more I did it, the more I realised that my life was not going to fall apart if I put myself or my family first.

I also learned to re-frame it in my mind, by stepping out or back from something I was good at, was possibly giving someone else the opportunity to contribute.

Our egos get a it of a lift when someone says “You are so great at that XXXX or you are the best person for this job because you are so good at xxx”

Those who are used to delegating committees, teams or jobs, are great at finding the right people but also great at framing the question in a way that ‘sells’ it to them.

You may be amazing at your particular skill, even love doing it – if you are like me, you may be the one everyone goes to for help with that particular thing, but if your life is so full your head is spinning, you are tired, grumpy, not spending time nurturing your own health and wellbeing, then you probably have too much on your plate.

GREAT NEWS: You have the power to choose, to decide what things you will say YES to and what things you will say NO to.

I have been reading a book lately called Soulful Simplicity, by Courtney Carver – What a great book for those seeking more simplicity in all of life! In this book she says,

“Stop saying YES to the things your heart says NO to”

  • What a great starting point, if you don’t even know what your heart says no to, that is a great place to start, get in touch with your heart again, go somewhere quiet and just start writing a list of all the things that fill your days, weeks, life.
  • Then go through that list and tick off all the things that energise you when you do them or are a part of them, give you energy, you look forward to, and give your all too without effort.
  • Then put another mark next to the things that drain you, that exhaust you, or you have to drag yourself to. Those are the things you need to let go of.
  • The things in between where you are not sure, leave them for later, deal with the obvious things first.
  • If you find this hard, the letting go bit, start with one thing a week, let go of one thing a week, or say NO to one thing a week.

TIP: Be sure NOT to fill that space you create with more stuff, or jobs etc, put yourself in your diary in some of those spaces, to do things that nurture your body, mind and soul!

You will be amazed, over time, how practicing the power of NO will allow more joy, freedom and love to creep into your life if it is not full of saying YES to too many things

In my next blog I am going to cover off ways to say NO, for those who need ideas in this space. Check out this follow up blog here

Here is to your freedom to be you and honour yourself with time and self-care.

PS: There is no cure for guilt except self-worth, valuing yourself more. The more you honour yourself and your time, the less you will feel guilty, it probably doesn’t go away all together, but I have learned that it is better to feel guilty for a bit and deal with that, then be completely useless to my family and self because of exhaustion and overwhelm!

Jen

www.simplyconfident.net