Too often I hear from clients who agreed to something they really did not want to. They end up regretful and in hindsight reflect, “I should have said no.” Yet, when I ask them why they agreed or simply said “yes” they replied, “I just felt guilty.” or “I did not know how to say no.” If you have ever felt this, this article is for you!
Remember, no one can ‘make’ you feel anything without your consent. So stop feeling guilty. 🙂 Do not think about if you “can” do it, think it through and think about if you ‘want’ to do it.
Do you want to be responsible for the food for the next activity or meeting?
Do you want to accept the friend’s invite at Chuck E Cheese play and eat on Saturday at 7am?
Do you want to work on that project with that colleague?
Do you think absorbing your coworker’s project will really help you earn more respect among leadership?
If the answer is Yes, great! Say yes. But if the answer is No, just say no.
Now, if you struggle with feelings of guilt, I’d encourage you to take emotion out of it. I understand this is easier said than done. Research proves that women communicate not just to solve problems but to offer emotional support and spur camaraderie. When we say no, it feels contrary to what we innately may feel. However, do not be fooled into thinking this means you SHOULD say yes. You risk becoming the person whom everyone relies on for the things you really do not want to do. You may also earn the reputation of always saying yes, so you will always be the recipient for such requests. Then stress or regret (or both) may bubble up only because you could not bring yourself to say a simple, two letter word.
I am not advising you to always say no. We all have great reasons to accept opportunities, invitations and guidance. I am asking you to really think about what your true desire is. Then communicate your boundary by saying no when you want to say no.
Get comfortable with “no.” Building the tools in your communication toolbox around the word no, may be quite helpful. How comfortable are you when the words “No” come out of your mouth? Get comfortable with “no”.
To be more comfortable offering a respectful ‘no’- you must practice saying no.#PracticeNo
Below is a list of 15 ways to say no. This will give you a few ideas to remember how to communicate your boundaries. These phrases are especially helpful when you really want to say no but can’t find the exact words in the moment.
15 Ways to Say No
- No thank you.
- Ain’t gonna happen. 😉
- I’d love to, just can’t. (then just pause and remain silent.)
- Sounds interesting, I am not able at this time.
- Can’t this time, but ask me next time!
- Thank you for thinking of me for this, I can not do this right now. However, have you considered.______?
- I am flattered you thought of me for this, however I can not take this on right now.
- I can’t, but what I can do, is help you think of another solution/way/person.
- I can’t at this time.
- I am at capacity right now, (and then., if it is to your supervisor, “What would you like me to take off of my plate to allow me to work on this?”)
- This is not a good fit for me. (Like when I was asked to make cupcakes for my kid’s classroom, which was followed with .. believe me, you do not want me to do this. lol. )
- I don’t think that will work. (and maybe add, “Here is why…” )
- I don’t think that is a good idea. Let me explain, …
Enjoy these phrases. Add to them. Have fun with them. Own them. Practice them. Clearly, every single phrase here may not be a natural fit for your situation, personality or position/title at work. However, you now have a list that you can consult before you consider whether or not you really want to accept the invite to be a part of something you may prefer to avoid.
Meg Bucaro is a communication strategist and college adjunct faculty who is passionate about empowering clients to perform at their highest level by communicating with more comfort and confidence. She is especially passionate about positioning women for success by teaching them powerful communication behaviors. For more information on how to increase your credibility, likeability and influence, schedule a chat with Meg. https://megbucaro.com/contact/ or follow Meg Bucaro Communications here https://www.instagram.com/meg_bucaro_communications/