It can be hard to know how to say no. Sometimes I feel like I am doing way too much. I am constantly trying to make people happy and to “check all the boxes” in my life. This can lead me to feel tired, drawn and, at the end of the day, like I am not actually making a big difference to anyone anyway. Do you sometimes feel guilty when you say no?
It’s the “Can’t Say No” syndrome. Many women have it. There may be some man who have it too, I don’t want to be sexist. But I do think that the majority of men are more selfish than the majority of women. Women are almost “hard wired” to want to care for people, to look after people, to put the needs of others above their own needs. You can learn to say no, it’s actually not that hard.
Most of my friends are enormously generous people. My family is also (to a fault) generous. I know some very selfless and caring people. But for the most part, I know that I push myself too hard, I agree to too much, I take on too much at work and I feel frequently overwhelmed.
How to say no – “Say it fast!”
One of my fave bloggers The Muse online says, “Don’t keep your friend hanging for days or weeks, hoping she’ll “forget” about it. She won’t.” They suggest to get past this first step, you should also explain why”.
“Depending on the nature of your relationship, you may want to explain why you’re saying no. But don’t over-explain or give your entire life story. That’s not necessary.”
The importance of setting boundaries – they help you to say no
Elizabeth Grace Saunders says that you can pre-prepare some responses to common demanding questions, this will help you when you need to think on your feet.
“At first, you’ll need to consciously think about using these new phrases,” she explains. “But in time, these type of responses will quite naturally flow out of your mouth in conversation or through your fingers in an email response.” There are many ways to say no.
An example of this would be the answer to the request to do something to a very short deadline. Elizabeth says that you could reply, “I know this project is a high priority for you, and if it’s absolutely necessary for me to turn something in by that date, I can make it happen. But if I could have a few more _________ (days, weeks, etc.), I could really deliver something of higher quality. Would it be possible for me to have a bit more time?”
Hey, it may work, who knows? In all honesty, I probably wouldn’t get away with that with my team and my boss. It’s sink or swim around here. You can learn to say no in a positive way.
Elizabeth also suggests that, “If you’ve developed a reputation for always jumping to meet everyone’s requests, you may have a few people who don’t like your new approach,” which is a common problem that female workers report. The solution? “By consistently practicing better responses, you’ll end up making more people happy – including yourself,” she says.
What’s the best way to say no at work?
One good point raised by Forbes is that you don’t need to reply right away, you can take some time to think of an appropriate response. So, how can you say no?
“Determine how much time you’ll need to deliver quality work, and how the assignment fits in to your existing workload,” they suggest. “In general before you say yes, you want to think about how to help the person who approached you about the task. Ask if you can contribute in a different way, or tackle the project at a later date.”
How to say no from a place of truth
Susan Gregg is a spiritual healer and master healer and she has a great quote on how to say no, organically, from your core.
“No is a complete sentence and so often we forget that,” she points out. “When we don’t want to do something we can simply smile and say no. We don’t have to explain ourselves, we can just say “No”.
Early on my journey I found developing the ability to say no expanded my ability to say yes and really mean it.
My early attempts at saying no were often far from graceful but with practice even my no came from a place of love.”
“Love yourself enough to be able to say yes or no.” If you really want to learn how to say no, all you have to do is to start working on it. Good luck! Stay strong!