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Have you ever thought about how hard it is to learn to say No?
We’re encouraged to say yes to everything. Yes, to adventure! Saying yes will open doors!
But the fact is, saying yes without setting any boundaries causes stress and frustration.
We stay in jobs we hate, in relationships that aren’t healthy, and agree to do things we don’t really want to do.
Saying yes is easier.
If we want to have control of our lives, we need to learn to say no. Not all the time and not to everything. But when it matters most, we need the ability to take a stand and say NO.
Learn to Say No
Why Is It So Hard to Say No?
Our anxiety over saying no has very little to do with how we feel. We may feel guilty about it, but the real issue is external.
We care about how others will view us if we say no.
- They might think we’re selfish
- We’re worried we might hurt someone’s feelings
- We’re worried it might cause a confrontation
What About Our Feelings About Saying Yes?
We’re focused on how others will respond to our saying no. We don’t give much thought to how it makes us feel to say yes to something we don’t want.
Think about the last time you said yes to something when you really didn’t want to.
You probably felt:
Not being able to say no can be exhausting and stressful. We might become resentful because we feel like we don’t have enough time for things that have value and meaning for us.
That’s a bad situation to be in and if it goes on too long you might do something you regret like lose your temper or say something you don’t mean in the heat of the moment.
Instead, take some time to learn techniques for learning to say no in a thoughtful way.
Tips for Learning to Say No
- Start small
If the idea of saying no simply terrifies you, start with something small. It could be something as simple as saying no to a co-worker who asks you to lunch. This is a new skill that you’re learning, and it will take time to master it just like any other skill. Gain confidence by saying no to the small stuff and move on to bigger things when you’re ready.
- Be Honest
Don’t lie to get out of something. We think that we’re sparing hurt feelings with a white lie. But if there’s a chance you’re caught lying it will be way worse than if you’d just told the truth.
Just be honest and keep it simple. “I’m sorry, I can’t help you this weekend.” is all it takes. There’s no need to go into great detail about anything. If they continue to push you to say yes, just stay firm and keep it simple. “Sorry, not this time.”
- Don’t Be Apologetic
You have every right to say no and there’s nothing to be sorry for. Again, just stay firm and keep it simple.
- Don’t Be Wishy-Washy
If you act indecisive about saying no, whoever is asking the favor might sense that if they keep asking, you’ll eventually say yes. This will just prolong the interaction and you might end up saying yes just get it over with.
- Take Some Time to Think About It
If you feel really pressured to give an answer, buy yourself some time by telling them you need to check your schedule or need more time to consider it.
When you’re ready to give an answer, you’ll have more confidence because the dynamic has changed. Instead of feeling pressured to answer immediately, you’ll be able to step back and assess the situation to answer more confidently.
You CAN Learn to Say No
It will get easier to say no once you’ve done it a few times. You’ll find that your self-confidence will increase and you might even gain some respect for having the courage to say no.
If you want to reach your goals and spend time on things that have value, you have to set some boundaries and give yourself time to grow.
Be intentional and learn to say no to things you don’t want. No is one of the shortest words in the English language but it’s a big word that can have a positive impact!
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