“No” was my son’s favorite word when he was learning to communicate. His answer to almost every question. He was so happy when he said it. “No”. Boom. Then on his way.
I don’t think I was like that as a child. I don’t think I knew “no” was an option.
How many of us grew up knowing you don’t tell your parents “no”? Then when you get older, you don’t tell your family “no”. Or your friends. Especially when they need your help. Be a good child, sibling, parent – always help when you can.
This concept continues to morph into your work, neighborhood, and community families. If someone needs something, and you can help, you don’t say “no”.
The myth, the guilt.
It is rude to say no. It is selfish to say no. It is wrong to say no.
It took me a long, long (decades) time to be able to respond with that. What I learned is we need to say no. For our health. All our health – mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and financial.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. Your time, talents and sanity are valuable. If you give them all away to everyone else, what’s left for you? How can you give if you have nothing left? How can you give of value when you’re depleted?
It is not selfish; it is self-care.
I love the argument that you are being selfish by saying no. So wait, it is selfish of me to think of myself, you want me to think of YOU instead. Hmmm….isn’t that YOU being selfish?
I am a believer in giving. Your time, talent, resources, positive thoughts – anything you can offer in a healthy way to help others. Notice I put in there a healthy way?
There are also different ways we can be saying “no”: not completely “no”, not right now “no”, not to the whole thing “no”. No matter what your “no”, let’s get into the healthy business of saying “no”.
“No” scenario options.
Not ready to commit options: Let me think about this. I need to consider this a bit more. I’m not ready to say yes or no right now, let me do more research.
Not right now options: I do want to help, just not this week/month – it’s packed …. how about (offer alternative)
Not the whole enchilada options: That’s a huge commitment, that i can’t do right now, however, I would love to help with … (a smaller piece)
Simply no options: I’m sorry I can’t, but I appreciate the offer. Thank you for thinking of me, I am just not able to. I think I will pass, thanks for asking me.
Gentle reminders for no.
Get comfortable with saying the word “no”. If you don’t come right out and say “no”, at least put in the negative meaning. For each of the above, there is a “no” or a negative in there.
Be firm and polite. If one of the first statements don’t work, follow up with “No thank you.” Short, simple.
You do not need to give a long drawn out excuse. You don’t want to. Period. As simple as that.
Replace the poison word.
But. That is the poison word. Any time you use ‘but’ in a sentence the listener has a Pavlovian response. They know everything before “but” it was rubbish and your real intent is what came after it.
Replace but with however, yet, or eliminate it all together. Using a bridge into a softer blow can help the listener accept your answer. Be prepared to do a firmer, softer, still polite, follow up no. They might see it as an opening for “persuasion”.
Follow up nos.
- No thanks.
- No thank you.
- Not for me, thank you.
- I’m afraid I can’t, thanks for thinking of me though.
- I’d rather not, thanks.
Permissions for saying no.
You do not owe anyone an explanation – this is for personal “no”s. Your boss is going to need a reason.
Trust your gut. If something inside is screaming “don’t do it!” then don’t. Say “No thank you”.
It is scary to say “no”. For a lot of us, it goes against our upbrining, culture, and implications we have been living with for a very long, long time. It’s okay. It will take some practice – and courage. (if you need extra help, see the end of this article for The Power of No program info)
Remember, when someone is accusing you of being selfish, that means they are not thinking of you. They want you to ignore your health and make them a priority. It’s all about them. This is passive aggressive manipulation. Recognize it, don’t’ get sucked into it.
You are not a bad person for saying “no”. If someone makes you feel guilty or ends a relationship because you prioritize your health and yourself, is it – or was it – a healthy or valuable relationship for you?
This is for your health – remember that. You are important. You matter. This is your right. Don’t allow someone to bully you into saying yes, making you feel guilty or prove your reason worthy.
You can do this. For your health, you must do this. You’ve got this! Take some baby steps and soon you will be comfortable and empowered by that little word – no.
If you find you still struggle with saying no, let’s talk. We can work through our Power of No Program that will help you identify:
- where you need to say no more
- beliefs stopping you from saying “no”
- your priorities for clarity
We will help you use techniques and a three-step action plan to be able to say “no” when you need to!
Click here Let’s Talk! to schedule a free consultation today so you can fully embrace the undeniable, liberating, superpower of “No”.
As a triple certified as a Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach and Social Media Brand Analyst I help amazing professionals get career happy.
Click here –CareerPolish.com– to find out more.