July 26, 2008

7 ways to say no without feeling guilty

I'd been saying NO for a couple of hours so I finally said YES to this picture :)
Bath, England

It’s such a small word but so difficult to use sometimes. We seem to use this word so easily with our spouse and children but have a hard time saying it to other people. So the trick is to figure out how and when to say no.

I'm not saying that you should be selfish and never help anybody out. However, most people are running around stressed because they're saying yes to everybody but themselves.

You should only be saying yes when you genuinely want to do something, you feel excitement at the thought of doing it or it ties in with your life goals or definition of success.

1. You don't have to have another appointment first in order to say no
If you've planned to have an evening in (bubble bath, reading, TV, whatever…) and you get invited out, this does not automatically mean you have to accept. An appointment with yourself is just as important as one with other people. Value your time!

2. Realise that when you say yes to one thing, you ALWAYS say no to something else
When this happens, you usually say no to the more important parts of your life - God, family, yourself. For example, you're asked to help out on a committee at your child's school. You could end up so busy with committee work that you deprive your child of quality time. Another example is saying yes to everybody at work collecting money for birthdays, leaving presents, etc, and no to your own financial future.

3. Don't instinctively say yes. Buy time to think about it first.
Always check your diary first before committing to plans. Or just take a deep breath. Otherwise you end up saying yes to everything and at the end of a hectic period, you're virtually burnt out.

4. It becomes easier to say yes the more you practise
At first when you have to say no to something or someone, it feels terrible. But it is incredibly empowering when you realise that you made the correct decision in saying no. It is an acquired skill and the more you use your "no" muscle, the stronger it'll get. I promise.

5. When you say yes and you feel resentment, it means that you should have said no
Learn to listen to your heart. The Bible says that we mustn't give grudgingly or under compulsion, and yet, so many of us do. We say yes, and harbour deep feelings of resentment and bitterness. Nothing good comes from a resentful attitude.

6. Saying no comes easier when you are confident in your own capabilities
When you say no firmly and without a grovelling apology, it affirms your self-worth and it's a way to stand up for yourself. Men seem to do really well at this but women seem to want to explain everything and apologise while they're saying no.

7. You don't have to be rude or ugly about it - there are many ways to say no
No can be "I can't help you this time", "I can only do it next month", "that's not my strong suit" or simply "no, thanks".

Make a quality decision this month to look at your schedule and see where you're saying yes to activities or commitments that don't support your goals. Then, work at saying no to them so you can say yes to more important things.

Marcia Francois is a time management and organising coach who empowers small business owners and other busy people to organise their time, space, business and life. Visit http://takechargesolutions.org for your free Clear the Paper Clutter e-book and the rest of your Organising Success Pack.
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