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Learn how to say no

Do you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no? Say, for example, you join that committee even though you’re too busy? Here are some ways to turn requests down with grace.

Woman saying No

Perhaps you feel a sense of obligation or overwhelming guilt, and that’s what makes you say yes. Or maybe you feel you must commit to everything asked of you. Saying yes to all sorts of commitments can cause you stress, exhaust you and make you feel bitter and resentful. Here’s how to simply say no.

Be concise and polite

If saying no makes you feel ill at ease, you may find that when you do manage to turn down a request, you ramble on and provide way too many excuses as to why you’re saying no. But this just makes more of the situation than necessary. Instead, with a hint of regret in your tone, simply say you’re sorry but you can’t help out this time around. If it’s something you could see yourself wanting to help with in the future, you can soften your no by saying sincerely that you’d love to pitch in next time.

Remember why you’re saying no

You have valid reasons for saying no — you’re stressed and pressed for time, and you simply need more breathing room in your schedule. We all need some “me time,” and when you say yes to something else instead, you’re saying no to something you’d planned to do just for yourself. Keeping in mind that saying no benefits your personal health and well-being can help you become more assertive and feel more positive about turning someone’s request down.

The direct approach is the mature way to go

If you’ve ever tried to weasel your way out of committing to something (not replying to an email or even dodging the person at work, for example) because you didn’t want to say no directly, remind yourself that simply being firm and to the point is a much more respectable and mature approach. Plus, even though your response is negative, at least the person who made the request has a clear answer.

Be realistic about your time and capabilities

Sometimes people who can’t say no thrive on the feeling of being needed, of being that person people can count on. But take a good, long look at your schedule and accomplishments; if you find you’re overwhelmed, you need to start cutting down your responsibilities. You simply cannot do everything — you’re not superwoman, after all.

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