Saying no to things is healthy and can free up time you would have spent completing tasks you felt obligated to do for self care or working on the goals you have for your future. I always want to help everyone and I know I’m not the only one that struggles with saying no. Here are some tips for saying no.
Putting off saying no often makes it worse. If someone asks you to do something that you know you’re not going to do, say no right away. Otherwise you’re going to be carrying around guilt and stress until you can figure out how to get out of the situation. If someone is counting on you to do something and you know you’re not going to deliver telling them so right away will save you both a lot of time and stress.
Don’t Feel Guilty
Saying yes when you need to say no will lead to burnout and make you able to do less in the future. There’s noway anyone can do everything so don’t feel guilty about saying no. We only have limited time in this life. If you want to accomplish your goals and live the most fulfilling life possible, you’re going to have to say no in order to be able to have the experiences you want.
Don’t be an Ass
If you need to tell someone no be direct but also gracious. Saying “No, I don’t have time but thanks for thinking of me” is a perfectly acceptable answer. While it’s hard for some people to say no remember that it is also difficult for many people to ask for help. If someone asks you to do something be as courteous to their request as you can while still being direct.
Find Out What’s Holding You Back
You don’t want to become someone who’s default answer is no. If you’re saying no when your coworkers ask you to happy hour because you need to spend time alone after work to recharge that’s fine. However, if you want better relationships at work and you’re just putting them off out of fear of feeling awkward or uncomfortable maybe you should reevaluate your no. Only you can know if you’re avoiding something to take care of yourself or if you’re missing out on opportunities and experiences because you’re scared to leave your comfort zone. I have a whole article on doing something that really f-ing scares you here.
Realize Why It’s Important
Remember the reasons you want to say no. Do you have too much going on right now? Are you trying to focus on a specific goal? Is your mental health making your ability to do extra tasks really difficult? Remember the reasons it’s important to you to say no. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to tell someone you aren’t available to help them with something but thinking about why it’s important will help keep you focused.
Don’t Give Details
Most of the time just saying “I’m sorry I can’t” is a good enough reason. Making up lengthy justifications can end up making things complicated. If you tell someone “oh I would love to do that but I have to take care of my dog” they might just tell you to bring your dog along. Don’t feel obligated to explain, leaving out details will mean there is less room for negotiation.
If saying no gives you anxiety or is something you really struggle with practice beforehand. I like to do stuff like this while I’m driving. Practice saying no until it feels less awkward. Have a couple of generic no’s ready to go so you’re prepared the next time you need to tell someone no. Something like “I’m sorry but I have a lot going on” is a good thing to have in your pocket.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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