It's 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, you just sat down at your desk, turned on your computer and you're ready to start you day. You're just going over your to do list that seems to have a hundred items when you get a phonecall from a colleague who is the president of a networking group. Can you do a presentation today for her networking group? You're already feeling overwhelmed by items on your to do list and you really wanted to spend the day getting those things done. Do you say 'yes' or 'no'? Good question! So what's your answer?
Here are 5 Tips on How to Say "No" Without Feeling Guilty
I received a call last year to teach a weekly course (4 hours a week) on entrepreneurship and mentoring… for free.
The old me; “Of course I’ll do it.”
The new me, “No thank you. Not right now.”
I also received 4 emails from different acquaintances/strangers (not friends) a few weeks ago offering to take me for coffee so they could “pick my brain.”
The old pleaser me; “Of course I’ll do it.”
The new me, “I am happy to jump on a 10-15 minute call to help you where I can. I am so sorry, my plate is overflowing at the moment and that is all I can give right now.
Yup. I did it. It took me a lot of work to get there, though.
So, I decided two years ago that my new motto is, “not right now,” and it’s an acquired skill. And when I say, “no thank you, not right now,” it doesn’t mean I won’t be interested in a couple of weeks, months, or next year. It means for TODAY. And when I keep the door open, I feel good about that. I once read somewhere that "SAYING NO TO SOMEONE, IS SAYING YES TO YOURSELF." It means freeing yourself up to do more of the things you love…read a book, go for a walk, take a painting class. Whatever. I volunteer. I help out. I do it because this community supported me many years back when I started my own business. And, I truly believe in giving back without expectations of anything in return. I leave my kids at suppertime and homework time to help different initiatives, because I believe in charity and I believe we all need to help a good cause. I love all of it. But, becoming a human pretzel is nothing to brag about. We all know our breaking points, or at least we think we do. It’s that last thing we agree to take on that's going to make us collapse like a house of cards.
I’m not saying we don’t have responsibilities we are unable to escape in our daily lives. All I’m saying is, if you feel like your business or personal plate is full, it ain’t the time to pack more on it. And saying no takes practice.
Here’s How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty:
1. We have all been turned down in our lives. Little Johnny couldn’t come to your son’s birthday party, you were denied a business favour, someone didn’t reciprocate your teenage crush – it’s a part of life. So, did you die from it? Of course you survived it! Don’t assume you’re going to inflict serious harm by saying no to someone.
2. Learn to accept no from those you love as well. “No’s” are a part of everyone’s life. Take it all in stride. If you do, you’ll be more easily able to say no to others, which means YES to yourself.
3. Don’t instinctively say yes. Think it out first. What’s your human pretzel threshold? Are you there yet? It’s okay to not answer on the spot. How about something like, “Can I think it over and get back to you?” If anything, you sound mature, professional, and if it really ends up being no, the “no” will sound like a better, more thought out "no."
4. Saying no truly does come with confidence and self-esteem. The more confident you are in your abilities, the easier time you will have to say no to people. You boost your confidence by practicing your craft, reading more, being mentored, learning about the world, and gaining more life experiences.
5. And finally, if you do say yes, and then you feel resentment, it means you SHOULD HAVE SAID NO! I like what Arianna Huffington says, “No” is a complete sentence.
So, go ahead, just say no.
I’d love to know – how are YOU at saying no?
Erica Diamond is the leading Women’s Expert in Lifestyle, Entrepreneurship, Parenting and Balance. A Certified Success and Lifestyle Coach, she's the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the Award-Winning Women’s Lifestyle Blog WomenOnTheFence.com®, Weekly Parenting Correspondent On Global TV, Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Spokesperson.