I’ve talked before about the importance of choices and how to make them. Those choices are directly related to saying “no” to other people, situations and things.
In order to create the space and time you need to work on what’s most meaningful and important, you’ve just gotta say “no” sometimes. It’s an obvious statement, but still worth pointing out: you can’t do literally everything that’s asked of you or comes your way, and I doubt anyone expects you to.
If you’re committing to a whole bunch of stuff, how are you going to get your own stuff done? If you’re saying yes, yes, yes, what happens to your own projects and self-care? As the wise Danielle LaPorte says: “Everything is on your plate because your said yes to it.”
There can be a lot of fear and worry around saying “no”. What if it upsets the person asking for your help? What if it makes you look like a cold b**ch? What if you miss out on something great?
Allow me to reassure you: you won’t be losing out by saying “no”. You’ll be gaining, since saying “no” opens up space for more enthusiastic “yes’s” to things that excite and inspire you. Saying “no” allows you the time do the things that grow your business, achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams and desires.
And most people will be more understanding than you might think. They’ll probably respect you for it, appreciate your honesty and wish they had said some more “no’s” themselves!
Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Yes, it can feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, but it gets easier with practice. Eventually you’ll feel empowered as you protect your time and energy to focus on what’s important and meaningful to you.
How do I know I want to say “no”?
It’s not like I’m saying you’ve got to be on “no” autopilot, lol! As Gay Hendricks says, it’s about saying an “enlightened no.” This means that you’re making more conscious and intentional decisions about how you spend your time, and what you say “yes” to.
We often fence sit, or go back and forth between saying “yes” and saying “no”. Should I do it, or shouldn’t I? Is it a good idea, or not? Is it easier to just do the thing, rather than face the consequences of saying “no”?
One important question to ask yourself when faced with a yes/no decision, is “Why am I choosing to do this?”
First, this is a great reminder that you are making a choice. You’re not being forced to do anything, and “no” is always an option.
Second, it gets you thinking about whether you’re considering saying “yes” because you’re afraid something bad will happen if you don’t (ie: a person’s reaction, FOMO) or because you’re genuinely interested in the opportunity. My fave mindset biz coach Jessica Eley talks about people pleasing, which is exactly this – doing something out of fear or thinking you don’t have a choice.
How to say “no” (nicely)
There are a ton of ways to say “no” in a kind, polite way, that makes both you and the receiver feel warm and fuzzy about it.
– Use the good ‘ol “compliment sandwich.” Stick a compliment right before and after your “no”. Example: “That sounds like such a great idea, I’ll have to say no at this time, but thanks for thinking of me!”
– Try “I’m not feeling it right now.” No one can argue with your feelings.
– Say “No.” It is a complete sentence. I said a flat “no” to a political party that came knocking on my door one day, asking me if I wanted to volunteer for them – they totally got it!
– Bring up your schedule. Example: “That timing doesn’t work for me right now, it’s not realistic with my current schedule.” or “Unfortunately that will take me away from my other responsibilities.”
– Being honest about what you can commit to will be appreciated. Example: “I just know I won’t be able to fully commit to this or show up in the way you need.” or “I’m focused on ABC right now, and that’s taking up all my energy and attention.”
– Just keep repeating yourself……”No thanks, no thanks, no thanks…” over and over again. That’s a bit weird though, lol, but it works for those persistent askers.
– If it’s something you’re (genuinely) interested in, it’s always an option to ask them to check in with you later (or you with them).
Some More Pro-“no” Perspective
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
Don’t ever excuse, explain, justify or apologize for saying “no”. It’s your choice and your right.
Remember the adage that an honest “no” is better than a dishonest or begrudging “yes”.