Here are the most common reasons that we donít empower ourselves and say no.
Fear of disappointing others.
Do you have the disease to please? Are you worried you will hurt someone if you say no?
Fear of failure.
Do you equate success with doing more, more and more? If you take on a little less do you worry people will think you have lost your Ďedgeí?
Fear of being judged.
Do you worry people will think you are selfish if you say no? Do you think they will see you as less capable?
Fear of rejection.
Do you worry that people will distance themselves if you decline to do something? Are you afraid your friends will leave you if you say no?
Are any of these familiar? Do you notice a theme? Hint: itís fear. Fear plays a huge role in why we donít say no. We want to please, we want to be of service. But thatís not healthy if it means sacrificing ourselves. FYI - Sacrificing is not noble. Say yes, when you donít have the time, ability or resources is wrong for everyone involved. Itís really a disservice. Resentment will be brewing and stress will be building. Youíll feel it and so will the people you committed to.
So how can you get comfortable saying no? First, you have to be aware that saying yes is probably your default behavior. Second, youíll have to be willing to learn a new skill, because thatís what saying no with ease is, itís a skill.
To get started, begin by making your default response Ďmaybeí. Saying maybe gives you time reflect on whether you can, and want to do, whatís being asked. It gives you a buffer - time to reflect and draft a response that feels right. If needed, you can collect more information to better inform your decision.
Also, know that you donít have to say yes to exactly what is being requested. Suppose you are asked to join a committee. You could counter with an offer to assist with a specific task rather than committing to full membership.
If you decide no is the best answer, remember that you donít have to offer a lengthy explanation; you can simply use the buffered formula. Start with a thank you, then follow with your no. Here are few examples:
- Thanks for thinking of me, but I canít.
- I appreciate your asking, but I am already committed.
- Thatís so thoughtful, but I am not available.
- That sounds like such fun, but I canít squeeze another thing in.
In any event, whatever your answer, make sure it feels like the right thing to do. Do a gut check. When itís right, you will feel some excitement. If you feel any tension itís a sign you need to rethink your response. The body doesnít lie, let it guide you.
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