We’ve all been there. Someone asks us to do something for them, and the words “YES OF COURSE” shoot out of our mouths like a firehose before we even process the request.
There are plenty of reasons to say YES.
But don’t get taken advantage of by saying yes every time. Women are notorious for this. Let me guess, there have been times when you didn’t want to say yes, but someone asked you to do something and:
- It seemed important
- You guys are really good friends
- They’re really busy & have a lot on their plate right now
- You want to be nice & a team player
- You were flattered they asked & you’re eager to impress them
- You just didn’t know how to say no
So you just said yes.
Was it really that important?
If your friendship couldn’t withstand you saying no, are you really that good friends? Aren’t you busy too? Can’t nice people say no? Can you impress them some other way (not by taking more on when you’re overworked)?
When we’re children, we’re conditioned that “no” is impolite. We got rewarded and praised when we said yes. You need to get over this. As adults, we still aim to please and it still feels good to say yes… but life is more complex now. Saying no doesn’t make you’re rude or a bad person. We still aim to please and say yes whenever we can, but we also need to respect our own time and sanity. If you say yes when you should have said no, either your work or your well-being will suffer (if not both).
I’m going to teach you how to say no.
S T E P 1 : G I V E Y O U R S E L F T I M E
Say, “let me check my calendar and get back to you.” They’ll respect and appreciate that you’re putting thought into the decision (rather than having a knee-jerk reaction). Don’t leave them hanging around for days (get back to them within 24hrs). But short reflection period prevents you from impulsively saying yes on the spot.
S T E P 2: A S K Y O U R S E L F, D O I R E A L L Y W A N T T O D O T H I S?
What are the pros and cons of saying yes or no (personal and professional)? How long will you need to deliver quality work? How will taking this on impact your existing work? The key to this is valuing yourself and knowing your worth. Everything you say yes to means less time for something else. You can’t say yes to everything, so you need to be disciplined about what’s worth saying yes to. In this case, is saying yes worth it?
S T E P 3: S A Y N O W I T H O U T B E I N G A N A S S H O L E
If you decide you better say no, there’s a perfectly nice way to do it.
- Flatter them
- Thank them for asking
- Say no, directly, with a short explanation (“because ____”)
- Offer to help in another way (take on a small piece of the project, share your expertise). You can also offer to take on the project at a later date (most people won’t want to wait and will just ask someone else)
D O N ’ T:
- Apologize (you’ll seem weak and as if you’ve done something wrong)
- Lie (you’ll get caught and/or feel guilty)
- Give a lengthy explanation as to why or share your entire to-do list and schedule (this will allow them to poke holes in your argument if they see you’re free on Tuesday at 5pm. Also, long explanations seem like you’re lying)
- Self-deprecate (if you say “I’m really not that good at that,” they’ll either believe you and think you’re less competent, or they’ll flatter you and you’re back where you started)
Ready to put this into action? Click to download my free email template – put it to use! You got this.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out there are definite pros to saying no in person. A lot can get misconstrued over email or text (we’ve all been there).
That being said, I ALWAYS say yes when I can.
Don’t become a no-happy grinch. If I can do something to help someone else without seriously impacting my own work or well-being, I’m going to do it. Hands down.
Analyze each request individually and say no when you need to for your own happiness and prosperity.
When did you say yes when you wanted to say no? Spill!