Thinking that saying No makes you a bad person is common but flawed. ‘No’ is one of the shortest words in our vocabulary, so why do so many of us find it so hard to say? Well, many of us are people pleasers, suffering from ‘the disease to please’. Nice, helpful people who are making a difference in this crazy world but at what cost to ourselves? For many of us, our upbringing has led to us believing that saying no is rude or that it will result in people being mad at us! Sometimes we go to great lengths to avoid being direct so we don’t respond at all and hope that people get the message! Sometimes we say yes when we know that the answer should have been a firm and honest no. Or we withdraw at the last minute faking illness even though we never intended to go and should have said no in the first place!
However, by following these people pleasing tendencies, we are creating stress for ourselves and others. The result can be that we can end up being overworked, overcommitted, and generally tired and emotional. Occasionally, we end up letting others down and feeling bad about that too! Saying yes, can mean not setting priorities!
Sometimes I have to say No to things that I’d really like to say Yes to! Saying Yes sounds so positive and can lead to lovely meetings spent with nice people! However, where is the time for this going to come from? Sure, I can have a coffee with you or meet for lunch after all, I am my own boss now! Bu then that meet up also involves time travelling there and back. Suddenly half a day is gone and I am no nearer meeting my objectives and then need to work late to play catch up!
Since I started my business earlier this year, my ability to say No has been tested by several people, many of whom I know really well! It has ranged from the expectation changing on who would do the lion share of the cooking and cleaning as I now work from home, through to friends popping in randomly during the day as they know I will be here and then clients who cheekily ask for an extra discount on an already great value coaching package. I’ve even had one friend ask If I would meet her friend for a coffee to give some free advice! After all, it would only take me a couple of hours to sort her out!
Yet if my business and life are to be based on the principals of fair exchange, then sometimes, I need to say No to requests from these people and occasionally this leaves me feeling uncomfortable.
I find that the guilt sometimes comes when I’ve not felt confident on why I said no in the first place. One of the main strategies I use is to figure out in the first place how I feel about the request. In order to do this, I tap into my gut instinct and ask myself, do I want to do this? This gives me a quick answer that I can trust.
Recently I have been coaching one of clients, a passionate, strong woman on how to say no to her sister in law about where her and her family will spend Christmas! I am sure this happens in many families.
Of course, it is important to remain respectful of the person who is making the request. There are different No’ s for different situations and these can help you with this! You might use a different one with your partner, children or friend than you would use with a customer. It depends on how you feel about the request, the situation, who is asking you for help and the overall balance of your relationship.
With some people, you will need a direct No.
With others, it could be something like ‘I have to decline this time but thanks anyway’ or ‘I can’t help you with that however, I can offer you this instead’.
An exercise if you struggle with saying No.
If saying No is something you struggle with then, I would like you to do the following exercises. Take your journal and
- Write down why you have difficulty saying No. Where does it come from?
- Over the next 48 hours, listen to yourself and other people and observe how you and they say no. Make notes on when you hear people do it well. These could be real people in your life or characters you read about or see on the TV.
- For the next week, keep track of the number of times that you say ‘Yes’ when you really wanted to say ‘No’.
- After the week, add up how many times this happened and look at who it most frequently happens with. Is it a family member or a particular customer?
- Choose 3 things you are going to say No to next time and plan the words you are going to use.
Six Quick pointers on how to say No.
- Be clear on your vision and stay true to your values.
- Understand the implications of saying ‘Yes’.
- Start to accept that saying ‘No’ is okay.
- Tap into your gut instinct.
- Keep your No simple. You don’t need to explain why you are saying it.
- Establish healthy boundaries – learn to respect & take care of yourself
The right to say yes and no and for myself and not feel guilty is on my “Assertiveness Bill of Right checklist’ if you’d like a copy then please click here.
Finally, I’d like the last words to come from one of my favourite authors Paulo Coelho
‘When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself. ‘
Good luck with saying no when you need to. I know how difficult it can be but you can do this and your life will change for the better as a result. Create room in your life for what’s important.