Are you stressed with a never-ending to-do list? But you still say yes to new obligations. People say no to you all the time, don’t they? So why is it so hard for you to do the same? In business, the ability to say no can at times be more critical than saying yes. Fortunately, there are ways to decline politely, effectively, and professionally. There is power in the Do Nots . . .
Do not fear the “no.”
It’s not a dirty word and it is an acceptable answer (no matter how persistent the requester is). As with every request, weigh your priorities and review your calendar. Often, by saying no, you are doing the situation more justice than by haphazardly saying yes and failing on the timing and quality of the delivery.
Do not have guilt from the “no.”
You have chosen to opt out for a reason. Don’t second-guess that reason and worry about what others are thinking of you. Yes, we all want people to like us and we tend to feel guilty when we put our needs above others. But trying to juggle too many flaming batons will result in a burn! You are not being selfish; acknowledging and accepting that you can’t do it all can help lessen the feeling of guilt.
Do not judge your amiableness based on “no.”
Prioritizing is great; protecting and valuing your time is wonderful. So try not to be hard on yourself or determine your self-worth based on a few passed requests. We are, more often than not, our own worst critics.
Do not apologize for the “no.”
Keep it short and simple. Try not to get into too many details as it makes you appear weaker in your conviction and it opens you up for scrutiny about your priorities and your reasoning. You have no trouble delivering a firm yes – do the same with a needed no.
Do not overlook delaying the “no.”
Buying yourself some time to consider the pros and cons and to better articulate your answer can be very powerful. In most cases, you can then offer an alternative that may lessen the guilt factor. That being said, the best delivery for the no is in person. An email or text can be misread and taken out of context. Try not to make the situation more awkward than necessary.
Do not disregard the power of practising the “no.”
You will get better with practice. The more you say no, the more comfortable and accepting you will become with it. It still may leave a sour taste in your mouth, but it will be easier to rinse away.
Do not forget to say “yes.”
As you become a master of declining tasks and requests, it can be easy to fall into the opposite pattern and want to say no to everything. Make sure you weigh your priorities and the benefits. Don’t pass up on important opportunities by defaulting to no.